The use of contraception in today’s society is not only widely accepted, but it is often falsely promoted as the means to happiness and security in a relationship.
“Contraception” includes any method, device, or medicine that is taken in order to prevent the conception of a new human being or to terminate the life of that human being directly after conception. Sometimes, as with “the Pill,” scientists are not sure whether conception is prevented or whether the newly conceived child is not allowed to implant in the uterus of its mother, resulting in a very early abortion. The Church prohibits contraceptives because they violate the openness to life that a couple should have when engaging in sexual intercourse, as well as the dignity of the new life that is created.
Furthermore, the Church asks parents to be responsible and recognizes that a couple may have a need to postpone pregnancy for serious reasons. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that,
A particular aspect of this [Christian] responsibility concerns the regulation of procreation. For just reasons, spouses may wish to space the births of their children. It is their duty to make certain that their desire is not motivated by selfishness but is in conformity with the generosity appropriate to responsible parenthood. Moreover, they should conform their behavior to the objective criteria of morality. (2038)
Contraception, however, is never an acceptable means to postpone pregnancy. The Church promotes what is called Natural Family Planning (NFP) to regulate births. NFP uses the natural signs of fertility in the woman’s body to indicate when she is fertile and when she is infertile. Using those signs, couples may choose to abstain or have intercourse based on their desire to postpone a pregnancy or to conceive a child.
A very good presentation called “Contraception: Why Not” is available in a PDF format. The presentation is given by Dr. Janet Smith and is clear in its explanation of the Church’s position and the reasons behind it. This is a must read for anyone using contraception or thinking about using it in the future. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read this file.)
One More Soul, a non-profit group in Dayton, OH is a wonderful resource for contraception and other information. Here is their Contraception page.
Susan Wills, a lawyer who works for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), discusses in this article the political pressure for emergency contraception and how science does not back up the political claim.
The USCCB has many useful articles on contraception.