I am indebted to several readers who responded to my column on contraception by pointing out that not all contraception is what it claims to be. Many abortifacient products are marketed as “contraceptives”. These products change the nature of the moral case.
When I spoke of contraception as having no intrinsic moral character outside of marriage, I was referring to the artificial prevention of conception. However, in modern parlance the term “contraceptive” is incorrectly used to refer to chemicals and mechanical devices which, when they fail to prevent conception, go on to cause the death of the conceptus or zygote—that is, the baby. In many cases, these techniques work by making implantation in the uterine wall impossible; in others, the chemicals involved are poisonous. In both cases, a human person is killed.
This is true of all chemical contraception and also of intrauterine devices and intrauterine hormonal systems, including, as one doctor succinctly stated, “the pill, the minipill, the injection, the patch, and the implant, as well as all coils.” When it comes to any form of “contraception” which actually prevents pregnancy from developing by performing an early abortion, we are not dealing with the morality of contraception at all, but rather with the morality of abortion itself.
Inside or outside of marriage, direct abortion is always intrinsically morally relevant. It is always wrong.
[This is a follow-up to Contraception: Why It's Wrong.]
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