Contraception and Catholicism: What the Church Really Teaches

That’s the title of a piece authored by University of South Carolina philosopher, Christopher Tollefsen, who this year is serving as a Visiting Fellow in the James Program at Princeton University. The essay published this morning on National Review Online. Here’s how it begins:

Catholic teaching on contraception is at the heart of the controversy over the Health and Human Services mandate. Catholic hospitals and universities are unwilling to purchase insurance plans that provide contraceptive coverage. To critics, this unwillingness borders on the irrational; accordingly, they see little value in protecting the freedom of Catholic hospitals and universities to act in accordance with their beliefs.

Catholic teaching about contraception is, however, not irrational; nor is it founded, as some have claimed, on irrelevant distinctions such as that between what is natural and what is “artificial.” Rather, two lines of argument are to be found throughout the tradition of Catholic, and more generally, Christian, thought on this issue that together show the teaching to be plausible and, in the view of many, true.

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