Are contraceptives forbidden in all faiths and religions? This is a question that can never be given one single answer. Birth control is seen differently from one religion to another. As there are some common rules between religions that control contraceptives, yet, there are also details that permit them in certain cases.
Recently, the US president Barack Obama proposed that health insurance covers basic birth control services for women, even at Catholic charities, hospitals and universities.
But the plans have sparked a firestorm from Republicans and Catholic leaders, who see the scheme a “violation of religious freedom”.
Seeking to end the controversy, Obama announced a compromise that would accommodate religious organizations, such as Catholic hospitals and universities, as reported by Onislam.net News Desk.
Read more about the American debate over Birth Control:
Here we present stand of different religions on contraceptives from About.com website, to give the readers an informative background:
• Roman Catholic Christianity & Birth Control:
Roman Catholicism is popularly associated with a strict anti-contraception position, but this strictness only dates to Pope Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical Casti Connubii.
Before this, there was more debate on birth control, but it was generally condemned like abortion. This is because sex was treated as having no value except for reproduction; therefore, hindering reproduction encouraged sinful uses of sex.
Nevertheless, bans on contraception are not an infallible teaching and could change.
• Protestant Christianity & Birth Control:
Protestantism is perhaps one of the most diffuse and de-centralized religious traditions in the world. There is almost nothing that isn’t true of some denomination somewhere. Opposition to birth control is increasing in conservative evangelical circles who are, curiously, relying heavily on Catholic teachings.
The vast majority of Protestant denominations, theologians, and churches at least permit contraception and may even promote family planning as an important moral good.
• Judaism & Birth Control:
Ancient Judaism was naturally pro-natalist, but without a central authority dictating orthodox beliefs, there has been vigorous debate on the question of birth control.
Most, for example, prescribed birth control to prevent conception for as long as the mother nursed, which protected the life of the nursing infant. However important fertility may have been to a small religious minority, the well-being of the mother has generally been treated as paramount and as justifying contraception.
• Islam & Birth Control:
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There is nothing in Islam that would condemn contraception; on the contrary, Muslim scholars investigated and developed birth control methods which were taken to Europe. Avicenna, a famous Muslim doctor, lists 20 different birth control substances in one of his books.
Reasons why contraception is justified include preserving the quality of the family; health, economics, and even helping the woman preserve her good looks.
[Additional explanation from Onislam.net's Ask the Scholar:
There is nothing in Islam that prohibits it so long as it is done consensually for valid reasons such as the following: putting off pregnancy until such time when the spouses are in a better position to shoulder the responsibilities of parenting, to allow for space between pregnancies in order to provide proper nurturing and care to existing children, et cetera.
Birth control is, however, forbidden or undesirable when it is resorted to as a permanent measure to prevent conception altogether; likewise, it is forbidden if resorted to for fear of poverty. Allah says, “Don’t kill your children for fear of poverty; it is We who provide sustenance for them and you; verily killing them is a most heinous crime!” (Al-Isra’: 31).
After reflecting on this verse, scholars have concluded that practicing birth control for fear of poverty is unlawful since it implies weakness of faith and trust in Allah as the Provider and Sustainer of all beings.]
• Hinduism & Birth Control:
Many traditional Hindu texts praise large families, which was normal in the ancient world because the precarious nature of life required strong fertility. There are also Hindu scriptures which praise small families, though, and the emphasis on developing a positive social conscience was extended to the idea that family planning is a positive ethical good.
Fertility may be important, but producing more children than you or your environment can support is treated as wrong.
• Buddhism & Birth Control:
Traditional Buddhist teaching favors fertility over birth control. Only after being a human can a soul reach Nirvana, so limiting the numbers of humans necessarily limits the numbers achieving Nirvana.
Nevertheless, Buddhist teachings support appropriate family planning when people feel that it would be too much of a burden on themselves or their environment to have more children.
• Sikhism & Birth Control:
Nothing in Sikh scripture or tradition condemns birth control; on the contrary, sensible family planning is encouraged and supported by the community. It is left to the couples to decide how many children they want and can support. Use of birth control is justified for the sake of economics, health of the family, and social conditions.
All of this is centered on the needs of the family; contraception in order to avoid pregnancy as a consequence of adultery, however, is not permitted.
• Taoism, Confucianism & Birth Control:
Evidence of family planning and use of contraceptives goes back thousands of years in China.
Chinese religions emphasize the importance of balance and harmony — in the individual, in the family, and in society generally. Having too many children can upset this balance, so sensible planning has been valued part of human sexuality in Taoism and Confucianism.
Indeed, at times there has been strong social pressure not to have more children than the wider community could accommodate.
- Contraception, Birth Control, and World Religions: Religions on Birth Control. Austin Cline. About.com.
Related Links:Islamic View of Birth Control
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Taking "The Pill" Instead of Your Wife?