Is the Church all that sure about when human life begins?

While having a conversation about embryonic stem cells, the issue of certain birth control methods that prevent implantation of a fertilized egg came up. I am not Catholic, but have been reading and studying for the past year and as far as I can tell the Church considers such methods to be equal to abortion. That is the postion I have been taught as a prot Christian as well. I tried to find someplace on the net that clearly stated that, but no luck. The CC stats the fertilized egg is a person, but makes no mention of specific forms of BC.

I don’t understand how practicing Catholics could say these things when most people in the street seem to know the Churches stand on human life???
And where can I find statements on-line to refute these specifically?

"I had 17 years of Catholic education and did a lot of research on birth control and abortion. As in any set of beliefs, there’s bad and there’s awful. Abortion is seen as a much bigger sin then practicing birth control. All birth control is against church teaching because they believe it is against ‘Natural Law.’ This logic is very sketchy to most Catholics because you can’t attribute it directly to anything Jesus said. Abortion is wrong because it takes a human life. Again, IUDS and certain pills can’t be thought of to be taking human life (under church teaching) because you don’t know how many lives are in a fertilized egg, could be zero, could be 4. Human Life begins sometime after the blastocyst has past the point where it could have split into twins, triplets, quads…

The church doesn’t believe in assisted reproductive techniques so it doesn’t believe the embryos in question should have been created in the first place."


“Even the Catholic Church defines the beginning of life as the point beyond
cleavage to account for twinning. (From a book entitled Contraception, by John
Noonan if you’re so inclined to look. Yes, I know what the Pope said, but he
should’ve checked with his theologians. Besides, the majority of the Pope’s
argument is with the creation of these embryos outside a woman’s body to begin
with.) So, although it’s easy to jump on this bandwagon in defense of life, I
think it’s a little premature. No, I can’t say for sure when life begins, but
I’m pretty sure it’s millions of cells after this stage. As a mother of a
child with a potentially curable disease (type 1 diabetes) I want scientists to
have available every option to help my son.”

Dear D,

First of all, the pope is not under the authority of theologians. Theologians are under the authority of the pope. The Church teaches that human life begins at conception, even before cleavage–period. The Blessed Virgin Mary was free of original sin from the very moment of her conception. (

How sketchy Church teaching is to most Catholic does not in the least affect the truth of such teaching. That Jesus didn’t speak of IUDs does not in the least take away the authority that Scripture shows that He did give to His Church. To say that one does not know how many lives are present in a fertilized egg is to admit that human life is indeed present there. Human life is sacred regardless of how many lives this means.

Our desire for the truth should not be tempered by any agendas—no matter how noble or heart-felt they may be. It is only the truth that heals in the end.

As for birth control, most forms are abortifacients. They do not prevent the uniting of the sperm and the egg. They expel a fertilized egg, a human zygote. You may not agree with the Church’s teaching on these matters, but such teaching IS consistent. Your child is in my prayers.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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