Is Natural Family Planning Really Holier Than Contraception?


Catholic Online reports on a young couple’s ideas about natural family planning—which sound like a lot of couples’ ideas about other kinds of family planning, aka contraception.

Kristine, of Tacoma, Washington, has been married for three years and is pregnant for the second time. She says that natural family planning

“teaches a man and a woman to develop a mindset of ordering their lives according to God’s Providence — discerning whether or not they are able financially, emotionally, or physically able to get pregnant each month.”

 

The first part of this statement reflects a basic Catholic idea (and one shared by many religions): seeking to understand what God wants you to do. But the second part is harder to parse. Kristine seems to be saying that NFP helps her and her husband discern whether God believes that the couple is financially, emotionally, or physically able to get pregnant. But NFP involves charting a woman’s body temperature, along with other indicators of ovulation, to figure out when she’s ovulating, and abstaining from sex then. This is a little more taxing than taking a pill or using a condom, and a lot less effective (it has a 12 to 25 percent failure rate), but it’s still a means of attempting to prevent pregnancy when you don’t want to get pregnant. Sounds like reproductive choice, not God’s Providence.

The way NFP is different, of course, is that you exercise this choice by abstaining from sex, rather than using a device or hormone. The latter, according to Kristine:

separates the two meanings of the procreative act — unitive and procreative — and thus sex becomes disordered.

If sex does not always express both a couple’s love for each other and their desire to reproduce, it’s “disordered”—a spiritual mess. But here’s the rub, and here’s why NFP feels disingenuous to me: when a couple is practicing NFP, they are not interested in getting pregnant. So when they’re having sex during the other, presumably non-ovulating times of the month, their sex is still non-procreative. They’re having sex, but they don’t want to have children. That’s why they abstained during ovulation.

To me, NFP seems, like annulment, to be a loophole created when the Catholic Church recognized that even its very faithful could not possibly live according to every aspect of the Church’s vision. Not every marriage works out, and not every married couple wants to be constantly reproducing.

The Couple to Couple League of Chicago, which offers classes in sympto-thermal family planning, claims that NFP is 99 percent effective. Others disagree, and, regardless of statistics, it’s easy to see how body temperature might vary independently of ovulation (when you’re coming down with a virus, when you’re stressed out, when you’re drinking). I guess that’s where God’s Providence comes in.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

  • stacey-burns

    It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry. ~ H.L. Mencken, Notebooks, 1956

  • lineline

    I agree with your analysis here of NFP, especially around so called disordered sex, I disagree with the put down to the method. Catholics call it NFP, those on the opposite side call it Fertility Awareness Method, and use condoms during the fertility window. Yes, it takes time, a memory, having consistency, and really knowing your body, but those are pluses that some people like that one can’t get with hormonal birth control. I am all for options around hormonal BC, but don’t think it should be idealized. I think people should be taught how to understand their cycle, and then they would also be better poised to know when something is awry.

    I don’t mean to sound abrasive here, it just seems like you haven’t done any research into what the method entails and there is plenty of feminist DIY healthcare info on the intrawebs. for instance, a starter: http://www.beautifulcervix.com/resources/

    Even if one is doesn’t want to use hormonal birth control, condoms can be used, and besides basal body temperature there is cervical fluid types, cervical position/height (you use a speculum on yourself with a mirror), cervical texture, and more. I’m not saying its for everyone, but I think the info should be out there.

  • progo35

    I think that NFP is being mis-characterized in this piece, and perhaps deliberately so, for the purposes of making an (erroneous)point about Catholicism. There is no Catholic doctrine or rule that requires couples to have sex at any particular time, so the couple is not breaking any rule by abstaining from sex during their fertile periods. The “sex for procreation” ideal only applies when a couple is actually having sex, not when they are not having sex. So, no, it’s not a loophole. I couldn’t speak to annulment.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • crowepps

    If you are looking at it as ‘the proper spiritual motivation for sex is getting pregnant’ then it is a loophole because the INTENT of the abstaining is to avoid pregnancy and the sex during infertile periods does not have the proper spiritual motivation of being ‘open’ to pregnancy but rather is engaged with the intent of satisfying ‘carnal needs’ of pleasure and deliberately timed so that pregnancy is as unlikely as possible.

    All of this, of course, is entirely irrelevant to anyone who isn’t actually Catholic.

  • progo35

    But, I don’t think that the CC says that “the proper spirtual motivation for sex is getting pregnant.” the CC says that only God should decide if a pregnancy results.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • anne

    I found this while trying to find specific Church documents regarding discernment of family size.  This is a good thourough explanation by a layperson who is a reliable resource about the topic of NFP and what the Church teaches (I will post a specific document after doing some research-I know it’s there but there are lots regarding the topic of sexuality and the like so, I’ll be back….)

    http://www.envoymagazine.com/familyplanning.htm

  • anne

    from the article in link I provided above: As any parent will tell you there is a great deal more to being a good Christian parent that just ‘popping ‘em out.’ The Church recognizes that the education and upbringing of each child is a tremendous responsibility and that there are limits – physical, material, psychological and social – to the number of children many couples can raise well. The Church, therefore, does not have any specific teaching on the ideal family size. All married couples are called to be both generous and responsible in their acceptance of children, but the exact number and spacing of those children is a matter for each couple to discern privately. Granted, in this day and age, the temptation to forgo generosity in favor of responsibility is usually stronger, but it is not somehow better to fail to be responsible in the use of our procreative powers than to fail to be generous. Pope Paul VI clearly explained this need to cooperate with God’s dual call to generosity and responsibility in Humanae Vitae: “With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time. Responsible parenthood, as we use the term here, has one further essential aspect of paramount importance. It concerns the objective moral order which was established by God, and of which a right conscience is the true interpreter. In a word, the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society. From this it follows that they are not free to act as they choose in the service of transmitting life, as if it were wholly up to them to decide what is the right course to follow. On the contrary, they are bound to ensure that what they do corresponds to the will of God the Creator. The very nature of marriage and its use makes His will clear, while the constant teaching of the Church spells it out” (10). The rest of it is here. http://www.envoymagazine.com/familyplanning.htm

  • anne

    Real Catholic Teaching :

     

     

    Recourse to Infertile Periods

    16. Now as We noted earlier (no. 3), some people today raise the objection against this particular doctrine of the Church concerning the moral laws governing marriage, that human intelligence has both the right and responsibility to control those forces of irrational nature which come within its ambit and to direct them toward ends beneficial to man. Others ask on the same point whether it is not reasonable in so many cases to use artificial birth control if by so doing the harmony and peace of a family are better served and more suitable conditions are provided for the education of children already born. To this question We must give a clear reply. The Church is the first to praise and commend the application of human intelligence to an activity in which a rational creature such as man is so closely associated with his Creator. But she affirms that this must be done within the limits of the order of reality established by God.

    If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained. (20)

    Neither the Church nor her doctrine is inconsistent when she considers it lawful for married people to take advantage of the infertile period but condemns as always unlawful the use of means which directly prevent conception, even when the reasons given for the later practice may appear to be upright and serious. In reality, these two cases are completely different. In the former the married couple rightly use a faculty provided them by nature. In the later they obstruct the natural development of the generative process. It cannot be denied that in each case the married couple, for acceptable reasons, are both perfectly clear in their intention to avoid children and wish to make sure that none will result. But it is equally true that it is exclusively in the former case that husband and wife are ready to abstain from intercourse during the fertile period as often as for reasonable motives the birth of another child is not desirable. And when the infertile period recurs, they use their married intimacy to express their mutual love and safeguard their fidelity toward one another. In doing this they certainly give proof of a true and authentic love.

    ****************************************************

    You can read the rest here:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_25071968_humanae-vitae_en.html

  • paul-bradford

     

    Real Catholic Teaching :

     

    Anne,

     

    You weren’t a Catholic in 1968, but I was and I well remember the hope we all had then that Pope Paul would allow couples to use artificial contraception.  What you may not know, but I will tell you, is that a commission had been set up that consisted of bishops, theologians, doctors, scientists and married couples — all Catholic, all sincere, all eager to do God’s will.  The job of the commission was to find out whether the Church ought to allow modern methods of birth control.

     

    The commission deliberated for five years and then reported to His Holiness that there was no reason to maintain an objection to artificial methods of contraception.  I can assure you that, at that time, if the matter had been brought to a vote of the bishops the bishops would have supported artificial contraception by a vote of about 75%.  I’m not talking about disgruntled, part-time, secularized, liberal lay people.  I’m talking about the entire episcopate!

     

    You can get a feel for what a hot issue it was at the time by reading sections 5 and 6:

     

    Special Studies

     

    5. The consciousness of the same responsibility induced Us to confirm and expand the commission set up by Our predecessor Pope John XXIII, of happy memory, in March, 1963. This commission included married couples as well as many experts in the various fields pertinent to these questions. Its task was to examine views and opinions concerning married life, and especially on the correct regulation of births; and it was also to provide the teaching authority of the Church with such evidence as would enable it to give an apt reply in this matter, which not only the faithful but also the rest of the world were waiting for.

     

    When the evidence of the experts had been received, as well as the opinions and advice of a considerable number of Our brethren in the episcopate—some of whom sent their views spontaneously, while others were requested by Us to do so—We were in a position to weigh with more precision all the aspects of this complex subject. Hence We are deeply grateful to all those concerned.

     

    The Magisterium’s Reply

     

    6. However, the conclusions arrived at by the commission could not be considered by Us as definitive and absolutely certain, dispensing Us from the duty of examining personally this serious question. This was all the more necessary because, within the commission itself, there was not complete agreement concerning the moral norms to be proposed, and especially because certain approaches and criteria for a solution to this question had emerged which were at variance with the moral doctrine on marriage constantly taught by the magisterium of the Church.

     

    Consequently, now that We have sifted carefully the evidence sent to Us and intently studied the whole matter, as well as prayed constantly to God, We, by virtue of the mandate entrusted to Us by Christ, intend to give Our reply to this series of grave questions.

     

    It may also be useful for you to read Section 30, "To Bishops".  Paul is practically pleading with the bishops to promulgate his teaching because he knows full well that most are opposed to it.

     

    Times have changed, though.  Catholics have left the Church in droves and the Church is the worse for it.  Priests have left the priesthood and there are very few men entering the seminary to replace them.  Bishops have been appointed, not for their pastoral talents, but for their willingness to ‘toe the line’.  We don’t have half the spunk we had in 1968.

     

    Kathleen’s objections to the logic of Humanae Vitae are valid.  The Church itself teaches that both the desire for children and the desire to share marital love are valid reasons for couples to have sex.  If the Church didn’t accept the second of these reasons she wouldn’t even allow NFP.

     

    Pope Paul could have prevented a lot of abortions if he’d endorsed modern forms of birth control.  I wonder how long we’ll have to wait before we have the opportunities that we had in ’68.

     

    Paul Bradford

    Pro-Life Catholics for Choice

  • anne

    You said in your article that when a couple is practicing NFP they are not interested in getting pregnant. But that’s not necessarily the case. Couples track the woman’s fertility for some other reasons, such as to achieve a pregnancy. Fertility using NFP can be used to indicate when ovulation is most likely. NFP can also show, through the woman’s vaginal mucous, if there are hormonal or underlying medical issues as to why the couple cannot conceive. I have also heard of NFP being used to determine how to medically treat women who are suffering from symptoms of menopause or even PMS due to hormonal inbalances which can be tracked through the woman’s mucous. 

  • anne

    that may interest you, Paul.

     http://www.christopherwest.com/page.asp?ContentID=100

     

  • anne

    http://www.christopherwest.com/page.asp?ContentID=95

     And I mean no harm in including these for people to look at.  I just don’t think it can hurt to have more information, from a view or opinion that does not match your own.  Coming to this site has enabled me to see that there are misconceptions on both sides of the debate, particularly (though not exclusively) when it comes to labeling each other as woman-haters.  It just never made sense to me that a population of people split very closely at 50/50, could be truly one or the other actual haters of women.  It DOES make sense, though, that MOST people try to do things, vote on things, volunteer for things or work toward a goal that will HELP people.  Both sides are actually trying to do that, they are just going at it from different points of view.

  • ahunt

    Ohhhh, where to begin?

     

    However, one of the main deterrents from succumbing to the temptation has been the fear of pregnancy.

     

    Um, as it happens, Anne…95% of married women in the US employ some form of contraception during their married lives. Now I suppose it is possible that West believes there is an epidemic of married women committing adultery, and that eliminating birth control is the cure.

     

    My own take is that married women want to enjoy conjugal relations with their husbands absent the fear of unwanted pregnancy. Just maybe?

     

    And as for the mean-spirited implication that women’s enjoyment of sex must ALWAYS be negated by the fear of pregnancy…for the good of society…

     

    …does seem just a teensy bit misogynistic, doncha think?

  • ahunt

    the reduction of sex to the exchange of pleasure. When openness to life is no longer an intrinsic part of the sexual equation.

     

    Admittedly, this quote from West is taken out of the context of opposing homosexuality, but it does form the foundation for opposition to all birth control, and so is fair game.

     

    Anne…there were five separate periods in our thirty year+ marriage when the "exchange of pleasure" was coupled with the intent to procreate. The fact is that the vast majority of sexual encounters within marriage are about the exchanging and giving of pleasure absent procreative purpose, and I happen to believe that this is good and fine and healthy.

     

    What is unhealthy and ugly and bad is the notion that the act of sex should carry with it a one-sided fear based in the bizarre demand that the women, who bear the majority of the negative consequences of sex, should be "open" to those negative consequences. It is ridiculous. And misogynistic.

  • crowepps

    Just as an interesting sidenote, I read years ago that when they were trying to work out the heritability of blood types back in the early 1900’s, scientists drew and typed blood from a number of women who had just had children, their husbands and the infants and the results made no sense. The confusion was cleared up when they talked to the women in PRIVATE and explained that what they really needed was the blood of the FATHER. As I recollect, approximately 25% of the sets of tests had to be quietly tossed once the woman said ‘father’ and ‘husband’ wasn’t necessarily the same thing.

  • crowepps

    the reduction of sex to the exchange of pleasure

    I do wonder why ‘the exchange of pleasure’ is dismissed so cavalierly as a ‘reduction’. I had my last child when I was 34 and had a remaining fertility of approximately 20 more years. Did the fact I couldn’t survive more pregnancies mean I didn’t ‘deserve’ pleasure?

  • ahunt

    SNERK!

     

    So the "epidemic" both predates widespread use of contraception AND suggests that "fear of pregnancy" was NOT a deterring consideration.

     

    Who knew?

  • crowepps

    Before bloodtyping, DNA matching, etc., so long as a woman was careful to stick with someone pretty much the same physical type as her husband, the operative phrase was "it’s a wise child that knows his own father".

  • ahunt

    I was done at 32, crowepps.

     

    I imagine, had we pursued the "openness" doctrine, that the inevitable "reduction" in the quality of both my marriage/family life and personal/professional  well-being… is considered godly sacrifice and submission…

     

    Un peu bizarre.

     

  • crowepps

    It just never made sense to me that a population of people split very closely at 50/50, could be truly one or the other actual haters of women.

    And yet it’s a clearly understood psychological phenomena that members of the ‘out group’, the group which is not considered normative, can internalize the social unworthiness impressed upon by society while they’re growing up, and loathe not only themselves but other members of their group. I’m sure all of us can think of an example of an overweight person who mocks the obese, a disabled person who makes bitter jokes about the worthlessness of ‘crips’ or a woman who drips spite toward other women on the basis of artificial standards about ‘femininity’ or ‘motherhood’ or ‘housekeeping’.

    It DOES make sense, though, that MOST people try to do things, vote on things, volunteer for things or work toward a goal that will HELP people.

    The difference between ‘help’ and ‘interference’ is whether the person whose life one is trying to ‘change’ has ASKED for help and whether the goal is theirs or the helpers.

  • crowepps

    Godly sacrifice indeed — according to my doctor, if I’d tried again I probably wouldn’t have been alive at all. Since God made it clear through Isaac that human sacrifice is no longer necessary, and I already had two kids who needed me, I declined to take the chance. Funny how so many religious people assume that the only sacrifice no longer necessary is that of MALES but insisting that women die unwillingly is still somehow appropriate to placate God.

  • anne

    Yes, you can make that point, but remember that women’s bodies do have natural rythyms of fertility.  Why?  In fact the window of actual fertility is a very short period of time.  Also remember that West thoroughly opposes all man made forms, as Catholics are "supposed to", but says alot about using NFP to achieve spacing of children or avoiding pregnancy and childbirth for a period of time that the couple decides based on their own discernment.  The reason I am pointing all of this out is because this particular issue is one that the Church is bashed for, that people think that it is against women let alone their ability to try to achieve some sort of pleasure from sex.  GRANTED–this has been the awful catechis either given to many a Catholic, or assumed, and as such the general public as well as many Catholics have a bad taste and many misconceptions because of it.  I do not dispute that in any way.. BUT, many Catholic women live by NFP and are able to space their families, have pleasure with their husbands whether the sex is to make a baby or not, with as small a % or better of a…. "SURPRISE!"  Also, to respond to your last statement–and in the context of the Catholic marriage—using NFP to avoid pregnancy, the question the couple asks is not "do we want to have sex right now?"  but rather, "do we want to conceive a child right now?"  I know, I am not including anyone other than this specific group, I KNOW….but that question, for me in my situation, has left me feeling empowered because I know my reasons for not wanting a child at this point, and my reasons matter in my marriage.  They become our reasons as a couple. 

  • ahunt

    Chuckling a bit here, Anne.

     

    Yes, you can make that point, but remember that women’s bodies do have natural rythyms of fertility…

     

    …that can change at the damndest times.  #3 son arrived 11.4 months after #2 son.

     

    Honey, I’m so glad NFP works for you. If you were one of my beloved DILs, I would wholeheartedly support your decisions in fertility management. Please understand that my snark is born of looooong advocacy on this issue, and is not meant as personal cheap shots for your private choices. I only ask that you understand that NFP is not for everyone…for entirely valid reasons, and that folks are no less devout for their differing decisions.

     

     

     

     

  • anne

    that pro-lifers, anti-choicers, whatever…are trying to help are the unborn, who cannot physically ask for help.  So someone HAS to intervene based on the many factors, including but not limited to, their faith and/or science.  They also want to help women, I know you will disagree but that was part of my point, is that pro-choicers, pro-aborts, whatever….think that the other side could give a crap about the woman, and I know first hand that isn’t true, they care deeply for women.  The other side also believes that your side cannot possibly give a crap about women, because in their eyes you have to love them both-and your side condones abortion-but, I can see that your side does actually care deeply for women.     In my 50/50 example, who is the out group??? And I’m not sure I understand why you are refrencing people who are internalizing something….are you saying that is how pro-lifers have the ‘hate’ they do for women?    (I am assuming you mean them as the "out" group)

  • ahunt

    Two consecutive stillbirths, crowepps. Couldn’t face another. I just couldn’t. We couldn’t.

     

    This makes us "weak and selfish" by some lights.

     

     

  • crowepps

    Well, the people that pro-lifers, anti-choicers, whatever…are trying to help are the unborn, who cannot physically ask for help. So someone HAS to intervene based on the many factors, including but not limited to, their faith and/or science.

    But you see, if they cannot ASK for help, then the person is intervening based on their OWN needs, faith and understanding of science, and ASSUMING that they are representing the best interests of the unborn with no idea whether that’s true or not. A fetus with anencephaly, for instance, will NEVER be able to express preferences because it has no capacity for consciousness. The mother may decide to abort it before it has a capacity for pain and the ProLife advocate insists that it must be allowed to develop until it can experience pain, but NEITHER can speak for the fetus.

    In my 50/50 example, who is the out group??? And I’m not sure I understand why you are refrencing people who are internalizing something….are you saying that is how pro-lifers have the ‘hate’ they do for women? (I am assuming you mean them as the “out” group)

    In our society until quite recently women were one of many ‘out groups’. In our society male was ‘normative’, being female was a deficiency which resulted in a subservient, second-class role. Women were (and are) socially conditioned that being female is of less value than being male, that females have to ‘earn’ good treatment by being physically appealing at all times, conforming to a long list of ‘good girl’ rules, and deferring to their controlling males on physical, mental, economic, educational, religious and sexual decisions. Men have one set of rules to follow and can break many of them without consequence – women are not only judged harshly for breaking those same rules but in addition have many more hoops to jump through, more expectations to meet and more people judging their behavior. Some women despise and punish other women who violate those rules because they have internalized the idea that in order for a women to be treated decently, her behavior has to conform absolutely to the ideal.

  • crowepps

    Being outside the situation looking in, it’s really easy to judge someone else as being “weak and selfish”. It’s also incredibly arrogant, judgmental, and demonstrates a total lack of compassion.

  • crowepps

    For one thing, a lot of us don’t WANT to consider ‘should we conceive a baby today’ because we know our conclusion is ‘absolutely not’, don’t have much interest in our ‘natural fertility rhythym’, and aren’t all that eager to spend time daily pondering our cervical mucus.

  • heather-corinna

    I want to make two brief comments which may be stating the obvious, but I want to make them regardless because of the framing of this piece and some of the comments that follow.

     

    Contraception, by most definitions, is the use of devices, medications, procedures or behaviors to prevent conception as a result of sexual activity.  In other words, NFP IS a method of contraception.

     

    As well (and understand I am Buddhist, not Catholic), these things are not always mutually exclusive. I recognize that Catholics following what the Church instructs may not be doing this, but plenty of us have or do combine methods of contraception, which can include combining NFP with other methods. Again, these things are not mutually exclusive for everyone.

  • anne

    "In other words, NFP IS a method of contraception."   This statement is like saying "Abstinence IS a method of contraception."  Natural Family Planning requires that the couple track the woman’s fertility and abstain from sex during the woman’s fertile time to avoid a pregnancy.  Likewise, Natural Family Planning can be used to achieve a pregnancy by tracking the woman’s fertile time.   What you are referring to are couples that determine the fertile time and then use some form of contraception (NOT ABSTINENCE) during the fertile time in order to have sexual intercourse.  Can ANY form of contraception be used to intentionally achieve a pregnancy (without altering it to some degree?)In bare bones NFP, couples do not use any form of barrier or withdrawl (a behavior, as you are referring to).  Using myself as an example, during my fertile time my husband and I use complete abstinence…..no sexual intercourse, no masturbation or mutual masterbation, no genital touching, no intercourse with withdrawl, no intercourse with a condom.  In this example, we are not using any form of contraception.  At all.  Some forms of NFP suggest that a couple should use a form of contraception if they choose to have sex during their fertile time rather than abstain.  THIS version does not suggest that at all, in fact it is in line with Catholic teaching, and many couples find it to be very successful in achieving or avoiding pregnancy.  At any rate, using some form of contraception with NFP is in no way, shape or form what I am referring to in any of my comments.

     http://www.fertilitycare.org/crms/index.html

     

  • heather-corinna

    Anne, I know exactly what FAM/NFP is: you don’t need to explain them to me. Not only are explaining, instructing and consulting on methods of contraception/birth control/family planning part of my job and have been for an age, I’ve also used it myself.  I am also aware that some couples use it exclusively, while others do not.

     

    But as I made clear, the definition of contraception/birth control/familly planning is simply whatever anyone uses to prevent pregnancy.  There are different types, mind (FAM is behavioural, the pill hormonal, cervical barriers are barrier methods), but they’re all ways to prevent pregnancy.

  • frolicnaked

    "In other words, NFP IS a method of contraception."   This statement is like saying "Abstinence IS a method of contraception."

    As Heather pointed out, both abstinence and fertility-awareness based methods (such as NFP) are behavioral methods of contraception. 

    I currently engage in the behaviors of monitoring cervical fluid, cervical position, and waking temperatures in order to determine when my body is approaching ovulation (and is therefore potentially fertile) and to confirm when that cycle’s ovulation has happened. My partner and I combine it with the behavior of abstaining from intercourse during the time when I am potentially fertile. Since we do all of these things with the intent of countering the chances of becoming pregnant, they are very much our contraception. 

     

    Certainly, some people engage in NFP/FAM for other reasons — to try to conceive, to help diagnose potential reproductive health issues (e.g., PCOS), to simply become more familiar with one’s cycle, etc. So, no, not every person using fertility-awareness based behaviors are using it as contraception. However, the fact remains that if one is using it with the intent of preventing pregnancy, then, yes, it is a form of contraception. 

  • anne

    unless you are "FRAMING" it to be that way.  "Abstinence IS contraception"  is not a true statement.  You can LOOK at it that way, if you want, and you can FRAME it that way if you want.  But MY response to this article regarding NFP has always been the position of:  I am a Catholic woman, who wants to space her children in a way that is in line with the Catholic Church.  The Church says that I can ABSTAIN during my fertile time and that is NOT contraception. ….I am not using an UN-NATURAL way to avoid pregnancy.  I am simply NOT HAVING THE SEX!  When we start teaching "contraception-only(rather than ab-only)based on YOUR framing, then tell me I am off my rocker….

  • frolicnaked

    Abstinence prevents conception. Periodic abstinence as part of NFP prevents conception.

     

    Regardless of what the church says it is or isn’t, both are contraception according to the definition of the word.

  • anne

    don’t we call "Abstinence-only education" "Contraception-only education"? If the word "contraception" is defined as "abstinence" then why not exchange the two? When we talk about "abstinence-only education", does the general public assume that to mean "we are going to teach abstinence as part of a way of contracepting along with other formas of contraception"? Or does the general public assume that when they hear "abstinence-only" it means "no sex" AND if the word ABSTINENCE is defined as CONTRACEPTION then why is the pro-choice movement AGAINST "Abstinence-only education" ????? Again- the statement, "Abstinence IS contraception" must be framed to appear true or to make sense in the way that you want it to.

  • frolicnaked

    Generally, people who are not in favor of abstinence-only sex education are in favor of comprehensive sex education — one that provides students with a full range of sexual health information, including various forms of contraception and safer sex practices. Abstinence is a great contraceptive and safer sex choice for different people at different times in their lives, but it’s only one choice of many. It’s necessary to teach about more than abstinence in order to be comprehensive.

  • crowepps

    Or does the general public assume that when they hear "abstinence-only" it means "no sex" AND if the word ABSTINENCE is defined as CONTRACEPTION then why is the pro-choice movement AGAINST "Abstinence-only education" ?????

    Yes, NPF is ‘more holy’ because it prevents pregnancy by abstaining from sex.  The corollary is that sex is unholy.

     

    The problem with Abstinence-only education isn’t the abstinence, which is included in comprehensive sex education — it’s the ONLY.