Need some advice on contraception for health reasons

Need some advice from Catholics familiar with the teachings of the Church and perhaps can give me some resources on this. I already went to my priest but I was a little bit shocked by what he was telling me and I am having trouble accepting it. My wife had an ectopic pregnancy which implanted in her fallopian tube. The baby had died while in there and her fallopian tube ruptured and she had internal bleeding (Thank God she is okay). They had to do emergency surgery and remove the fallopian tube. Her doctor is not a pro life doctor and has been trying to advise her to use birth control since forever, which we have always denied. My wife is not Catholic, she has no religion (agnostic). She has been pregnant four times and has lost two of those (one was a blighted ovum and now this). The doctor is concerned that this could happen again and she only has one fallopian tube remaining so if it does happen again, she will lose her other fallopian tube and will never be able to be pregnant again. He is concerned that my wife may be prone to these types of problems. I am aware of the teachings of the Church on contraception and birth control pills. Birth control pills being possible abortifacients and carcinogens.

I spoke to my priest about all of this and told him that the Doctor is concerned for the life of my wife and of course the fact that she may lose her other fallopian tube and I told him what the doctor advised. I told him that I told the doctor we couldn’t do that because of the Catholic teaching. My priest (who is normally rather conservative) advised us that we should in fact use contraception. This is what confused me. He wasn’t sure if all birth control pills were even abortifacients (although he was willing to accept maybe they are) but he proposed then just other forms of contraception like condoms or something. He wasn’t saying that it was always okay to use these methods. He said he would never advise using contraception normally but in our case he was saying that the danger to my wife is enough to warrant using it. He said that it would be a lesser evil then potentially my wife dying or losing the ability to have children. He talked about the Pharisees being too much about the law and that Jesus comes to us where we are and understands our struggles and wouldn’t condemn us for this. He said I “Surrender too much of my will (or thinking) to the Church”. He told me I need to, with a formed conscience, make a decision on this after talking to my wife and considering the facts. He told me even if my decision was contrary to the teachings of the church, but it was going with my “formed conscience” then I needed to go with my “formed conscience”. This is very confusing so I need more advice on this.

The priest is, simply, not correct.

There is no such “lesser of two evils” teaching when one of the “evils” is an intrinsic evil. The actual teaching of the Church is that we may never do evil even in an attempt to bring about a good.

A treatment for a medical condition that has a secondary, unintended, consequence of temporary or permanent sterility is morally permissible under the principle of double effect. But that is not the case here. The pill does not treat anything related to a fallopian tube issue. Its sole purpose is preventing pregnancy. This does not meet the criteria for morally using such a drug. And “other methods” of contraception are simply that-- contraception. An example of double effect would be taking the hormones in the pill to treat a hormone issue or taking radiation/chemo for cancer, or having a hysterectomy because of a damaged uterus-- these are morally permissible. The purpose is not to contracept or sterilize, the purpose is to treat a real medical situation. The unintended outcome is sterility.

It is prudent to follow your doctor’s advice regarding postponing or avoiding pregnancy. However, contracepting is not a moral means of following his advice. Periodic or complete abstinence are the moral options in this situation. Periodic abstinence through natural family planning should be considered-- Marquette Model uses Creighton plus a fertility monitor. Creighton, Billings, and Sympto-Thermal are other options.

And, finally, your priest is flat out misusing the idea of a well formed conscience. The first principle of a well formed conscience is that it must be formed WITH the clear teachings of the Church.

I am sorry you have gotten such completely wrong advice from someone you trust. I am sure it is difficult to have someone tempting you to sin in that way.

That being the case, I have to wonder why she cares about Church teaching on this topic. Given all that she has been through, from a non-Catholic point of view, not following the doctor’s advice would be insane.

I spoke to my priest about all of this…

And, given the circumstances, he counseled you to follow the doctor’s advice.

Again I have to ask: What does your wife want to do in this situation? After all, it’s her health we’re talking about.

Again I have to ask: What does your wife want to do in this situation? After all, it’s her health we’re talking about.


It’s not an issue of morals (sin) for her i guess not being Christian much less Catholic. Who’s steering the boat here?:confused:

God’s moral law is not for Catholics only. It is wrong to approach things as a “non Catholic” can just do as they please. Christ tells us that the moral law is implanted in our hearts. Christ’s revelation is for the whole world. We are **all **called to follow the moral law to the best of our ability. His wife has her husband as a beacon and guide of light towards Christ. We should never discourage that, dismiss it, or minimize it. His role is to get his wife to heaven-- not to just say “oh well you aren’t a Catholic go do what you want”.

The OP is a Catholic and he **is **impacted by the priest planting these ideas that are not compatible with Church teaching. He wouldn’t be here asking if he didn’t already know there is something fishy about the priest’s comments.

Noooooo - its not. That is contrary to Catholic teaching on marriage. It is “their” health we are talking about. They have been joined as one. He belongs to her and she belongs to him.

Well, in her case obviously from her Catholic husband who has *already *rejected the doctor’s suggestion of contraception saying, “we cannot do that”. He knows the teaching, and she knows the teaching, and nothing he has said in his OP indicates she is unwilling to live her life in harmony with his religious convictions.

His question here is centered around his surprise at being told something so contradictory by his priest-- he recognized this was off and is seeking reassurance here.

Normally we should be able to take the advice of our priests. But when a priest tells you that what the Church and reason reveal to be a sin is not a sin, and advises you to commit a “lesser evil,” there is no need to accept this and obey. Indeed it is your responsibility as a Catholic and simply as a human being to reject the false logic of committing sin to avoid other problems and instead to seek moral solutions to your problem.

I would suspect that your doctor is simply biased in favor of artificial contraception as a cure all. You should consult a good prolife gynecologist or perhaps the National Catholic Bioethics Center. The question to ask is:

Will delaying another conception reduce the risk of another ectopic pregnancy or will it actually increase overall risks?

The doctor’s advice is morally wrong - it is also medically wrong. No method of contraception is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. I call it “CDC roulette.” I can’t believe that they push a 10% ineffective barrier method for protection from AIDS, and since the HIV virus is much smaller than a sperm, condoms are probably even more ineffective against HIV transmission than they are pregnancy.

Natural Family Planning can be used to determine the infertile times - especially the sympto-thermal method. If they only use the time after ovulation, the probabiliity of getting pregnant from relations during that time is near zero. Check the CCL website for more info.

The immorality of contraception is usually supported in Catholic theology by natural law arguments. i.e., if something is meant by nature to be used one way, it is contrary to natural law, morality and the good of the person to use it another. An example would be: if we all know that eating is to be used for nourishing the body. But if someone were to engage in gorging and purging, we would see this as a violation of natural law. Violations of the natural law are immoral. Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae said that contraception is “intrinsically evil.” That’s about as strong a statement as you can get.

Further, one aspect of Catholic teaching is that a husband and wife give themselves to each other as a gift in marriage. Contraception makes that gift only a half-gift. “I give all of myself to you - but not my fertility.” “You need to put on your barrier to protect me from your fertility.” We are never meant to be a half-gift, as half a gift is no gift at all.

May God bless you.

So the doctor wants her to use ABC to protect her fertility? I just find this confusing advice. Presumably whenever she decides to become pregnant there will be a risk to her remaining fallopian tube, so what is the benefit of using contraceptives here exactly?

Also, yes, the priest is definitely wrong here.

I was wondering this too.

It doesn’t make sense. :shrug:

I have a higher chance of an ectopic pregnancy. I simply must test if I have a late period. If the test is positive, I MUST have an ultrasound.

This. This. And this.

I was wondering if anyone was going to point out the illogical viewpoint of using contraception to prevent an ectopic pregnancy. So that she wouldn’t lose her remaining tube??? That makes no sense. (We’re going to use this “medicine” so that we save a part of your body that we won’t use because of this “medicine”)

Indeed, there is simply no logic in this.

No, the logic here is to prevent a possible ectopic pregnancy which carries the risk of maternal death. If she were to become pregnant again, and it developed as an ectopic pregnancy, isn’t found in time, there is a definite risk of death.

The OP said the doctor was concerned that if she had another ectopic pregnancy, she could lose her other tube and never get pregnant again.

That was not what the OP said was the reason. But even if it was, how irresponsible is that? “You could die if you get pregnant again so we are going to put you on something with a high fail rate.”

Not only that but it is still not permissible to go on ABC for contraception, Period. End of story. There is no exception that anyone can come up with that the Church has not thought of. I know we live in a “exception” mentality, but it does not exist.

The only reason anyone could use CERTAIN types of ABC is for a reason unrelated to conception. In that case, and in that case only the principle of double effect comes into play. I am always shocked at the dangerous advice doctors give with regard to these issues. Birth Control has a fail rate and is a P. Poor way to be “safe”.

Which would be a great reason for the doctor to tell the OP’s wife to have a pregnancy test if her period is even a day late.

And to come in for an ultrasound if she does get pregnant.

If the doctor is worried about maternal death, then I can’t imagine that he would recommend anything but total and complete abstinence.

I mean, really, is sex worth the life of your spouse?

I didn’t say I agreed with the idea, just explaining part of the medical reason for suggesting ABC. when used according to directions, the fail rate decreases. Of course they also cause a myriad of other problems.

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