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It is difficult to follow the reasoning of Anne Lastman as found in her praise of Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae (" Humanae Vitae: still prophetic after 45 years," July AD2000) which classified the use of contraception as a sin.
She maintains that rejection of the teaching of the encyclical has been the cause of serious evils. For example, world-wide abortions number about 40 million annually. But she has not shown any causal connection between the number of abortions and the practice of contraception. Indeed, one can suppose that the number of unwanted pregnancies due to failure to use contraceptives would have led to a greater number of abortions; that is, contraception could have reduced the abortion rate.
She refers to Humanae Vitae's glowing account of marriage as total love of husband and wife. This love is quite compatible with the use of contraceptives. I know of no evidence to show that, in general, couples using contraceptives love each other less than those that do not.
The basis of moral judgement is the notion of benefitting or harming someone. No doubt there are cases where contraception does cause harm. But the majority of cases would involve no harm to anyone, so Anne Lastman's attribution of so many beneficial results of Humanae Vitae appears to be exaggerated.
FRANK MOBBS (DR)
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 26 No 7 (August 2013), p. 15
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