Why is the Church so Focused on Banning Contraception?

Q: Why is the church so focused on banning contraception when over-crowding and overpopulation is greatly dwindling the earth’s resources?

A: The Church is not trying to “ban contraception” — though given some of the recently media coverage I can understand why someone might think that it is. What you are probably referring to is the mandate of our new health care system that employers provide contraception for their employees. The Church is concerned that though obviously religious institutions (like churches and parishes) are exempt from the mandate, some others (like Catholic hospitals and universities) are not. Especially given that what many believe are abortion-causing drugs (like Ella, which works five days or more after sex) are included in the mandate, the Church believes that religious employers should not be forced to provide something if it is fundamentally contrary to what they believe about morality. It is also important to mention that the Church actually supports the use of contraceptives when addressing a medical issue. Catholic parishes and hospitals could still support, for instance, prescriptions for the contraceptive pill for women who are taking it to avoid ovarian cancer.

There is a separate question to consider about “overpopulation” here as well. The United Nations projects that world population will begin to decline at the end of this century, and many countries actually do not have enough people. Somewhat ironically, these countries with population decline are also the ones who are using the overwhelming majority of the world’s resources and contributing to climate change. Instead of engaging in population control — something that has had disastrous results throughout human history — we should focus more on living more simple and less energy-wasteful lives.

For the church’s teaching on contraception, click here to see The Catechism of the Catholic Church and specifically paragraph #2399: “The regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible fatherhood and motherhood. Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct sterilization or contraception).”