The Difference between Artificial Contraception and Natural Family Planning

OTTAWA, January 9, 2004 ( - Often it is heard that artificial contraception does not fit with the philosophy of the culture of life, but birth regulation by natural family planning (NFP) does.  Many have asked why that is so, especially for non-abortifacient contraceptives such as the condom, when the end result is the same. 

Christopher West, a world-renowned expert on the “Theology of the Body”, explained the difference during a talk near Ottawa Tuesday. West said that the difference was in taking God’s authority over life into one’s own hands. 

West, a professor of sexual ethics in the St. John Vianney Seminary in Chicago and visiting professor of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family Australia campus, compared the difference to “waiting for your grandmother to die naturally and killing her” noting with sarcasm that “the end result is the same.”

With euthanasia, as with artificial contraception you take decisions over life and death into your own hands rather than leaving them up to God, said West.  With NFP you can avoid pregnancy by abstaining from sex until the fertile period in the woman’s cycle ends, so with the death of the elderly one can know it is coming soon without artificially hurrying it along. 

LifeSite questioned West on the use of NFP with a contraceptive mentality. West responded that children are to be seen as a blessing from God. When married couples feel that they are compelled by their circumstances to avoid children, it is a sorrow for them - NFP is to be used for generous rather than selfish reasons. 

West returned to his analogy of the grandmother and suggested waiting for the grandmother to die with the attitude of “I can’t wait till she’s dead, hurry up come on, come on” is analogous to the use of NFP with a contraceptive mentality.

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