The Case Concerning Catholic Contraception

by Michael Malone (Author), Jay Boyd Ph.D. (Introduction)

Softcover book

Despite the defensiveness of NFP promoters, the occasional critic does speak against NFP. And if one looks carefully at what the critics say, there is much to be considered. Michael Malone's book exposes many logical fallacies in the arguments of NFP promoters, and asks critical questions which NFP promoters cannot and have not answered. "The Case Concerning Catholic Contraception" is the final major work which Michael Malone undertook before his death in 2000. He addresses the matter of contraception through the eyes of the perennial teaching of the Catholic Church, and tackles the thorniest issues that are involved. The book includes a Foreword by Dr. Jay Boyd, author of "Natural Family Planning: Trojan Horse in the Catholic Bedroom?" (available on Amazon). Perhaps the most controversial of Michael Malone's criticisms of NFP is his questioning of the validity of making a distinction between periodic continence (NFP) and artificial contraception. He goes so far as to claim that NFP is equivalent to artificial contraception, asking the hard questions: "Can NFP genuinely be considered any less a species of 'scientific harlotry' than pills or latex? In fact, is it not even more so, considering the excessive amount of time, study, research, and even person-to-person counseling which must be exercised in order to assure successful contraception?" While there is some legitimate line-drawing between NFP and artificial contraception, it is not true that just because NFP is not the same as contraception, a couple using NFP cannot possibly have a 'contraceptive mentality'. Currently, NFP is touted as a licit form of birth control (whether it is called 'birth control' or 'birth regulation' or 'fertility awareness'), at the expense of the teaching on the need for 'serious reasons' to use it, and without mentioning the virtue of producing a large family. When its promoters point out that NFP is 'as effective' as various forms of contraception 'if you follow the rules', they employ the same language and imply the same kind of thinking as we see in those who advocate the use of contraception. When it is proclaimed that NFP is "99% effective" there is no other way to understand "effective" except as "successful in preventing conception". Is it really incorrect to call this a 'contraceptive mentality'? Whether that label fits any, most, or all NFP users is a moot point. In quibbling over the label, we deny the fact that we Catholics have bought into the current cultural myth that family 'planning' is better than family 'happening'. In some respects, debating NFP is a secondary issue. The real point of the conversation - whether we use the term 'artificial contraception', 'contraceptive mentality', or 'birth control' - is this: birth control is not now, nor ever has been, a Catholic value. Without confronting the "birth control" mentality that is behind it, we remain stuck fighting the "symptoms" rather than the "cause." NFP is only an issue because "birth control" has entered discussions of marriage as an authentic Catholic value. The "extreme cases make bad law" phenomenon is here in spades: what should be an exceptional situation has become a "way of life" - as evidenced by the fact that dioceses and parishes are requiring NFP classes for couples intending to marry in the Church. Michael Malone lays out the case against NFP very carefully and clearly in his book. His conclusion is, briefly: "Finally, the purpose and design of NFP is intentionally to avert or frustrate - even if temporarily through recourse to infertile periods - the very possibility of conception. As a contrived, conscious, and calculated act of the will, this system of birth control serves to make a mockery of the fundamental purpose of Matrimony and robs the marital union of its divinely-designed objective..."

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