Although the Church is opposed to contraception, it is not opposed to the responsible regulation of births. Couples may use Natural Family Planning (NFP) to avoid pregnancy if they have a just reason to do so.
Since a woman can conceive on only a limited number of days of each cycle, a couple who are practicing NFP will refrain from intercourse when the woman has a chance of conceiving. This method is often confused with the outdated calendar “rhythm method,” but in reality it is very different. With an effectiveness rate above 99 percent, NFP is far more reliable..
NFP is also an effective means to achieve pregnancy, since the couple have a deep understanding of the woman’s fertility. And by monitoring the woman’s fertility, they are more aware of reproductive problems that may need treatment.
One husband noted that a couple may have good reasons to delay pregnancy, “but God has taken care of that already. So deeply has he wrought his purposes into us that a woman’s body not only bears fruit but has seasons . . . providing not only for bringing babies forth but for spacing them. There is no need to thwart the design, to artificially block fertility during a naturally fertile time. One only has to wait for a few days. If that is too difficult for us, something is wrong.”
Many people think that the Church’s opposition to contraception is an attack on the freedom of women to have control over their bodies. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Church insists that we have control over our bodies. By having control over one’s body, a person is able to make a gift of one’s self.
The contraception industry would like its customers to believe that contraception grants them control over their bodies, relationships, and sex lives. While contraception offers a person the ability to live without true responsibility, that is not freedom. Freedom can be attained only through self-control. Some people use birth control to make up for their lack of self-control. Thus they never experience genuine freedom.
Contraception can never make woman free. To treat pregnancy as if it were a disease implies that there is something defective in the way she was created—that her fertility is a curse. That is not a very liberating experience for any woman. For years those within the contraception industry have been trying to convince women that they should ingest chemicals or insert devices in order to become sexually liberated. NFP beautifully contradicts such a mentality, because it does not treat a woman’s body as if it needs to be subdued by drugs or shielded behind barriers in order to function properly; it just needs to be understood. This invites the man to treat the woman’s fertility with reverence instead of disdain. He learns that his wife’s body has been perfectly made. This is true sexual liberation.
. P. Frank-Hermann, et al., “The Effectiveness of a Fertility Awareness Based Method to Avoid Pregnancy in Relation to a Couple’s Sexual Behaviour During the Fertile Time: A Prospective Longitudinal Study,” Human Reproduction doi:10.1093/humrep/dem003 (February 2007), 1–10; R. E. J. Ryder, “‘Natural Family Planning’ Effective Birth Control Supported by the Catholic Church,” British Medical Journal 307 (September 18, 1993), 723, 725.
. J. Budziszewski. Foreword. Sam and Bethany Torode, Open Embrace (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2002), xvi.
. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2339.