During the 20th Century:
Almost all faith groups in North America, Canada, and the UK, until the early 20th century, a were opposed to the sale and use of contraceptives, even by married couples. Churches gave fertile couples two choices: abstinence or enforced continual pregnancies. Both are major stressors that can adversely affect marriages.
The Church of England bravely deviated from this teaching in 1930 when they approved the use of birth control in certain specific situations. Almost all other Protestant faith groups quickly followed the lead of the Church of England in subsequent years. Today, the Roman Catholic Church is the only large faith group in North America that still tries to ban the use of birth control among their membership. They are not notably successful at this, because the birth rate among Catholic couples is almost identical to the national average.
Governments in have drastically altered their policies. Twenty five years ago, some prohibited the open display of contraceptives in pharmacies. Now, these same governments are actively promoting their use to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancies.
Several factors now promote the use of birth control or abstinence:
One major concern is that overpopulation places excessive stress on the environment, speeding up its degradation and global warming.
A second major concern is the increasing gap between:
In ancient times, the gap was measured in months. Today, it is typically on the order of 15 years.
The age at menarche is currently decreasing perhaps due to better nutrition during childhood and increasing levels of sex hormones in the environment. Most teens now become sexually active in high school. One study of sexual intercourse among American teens showed that:
The median age of first marriage in the U.S. is about 27 for men and 25 for women. 3,4 These ages have been increasing about 8 months per decade. 4
This is an interval of time when many individuals wish to remain childless, in order to pursue an education and become established in a career before setting down and starting a family. Almost all youths and young adults reject the idea of sexual abstinence before marriage. On the order of 95% of individuals at first marriage are non-virgins. Many feel that birth control is a priority in order to prevent pregnancy before marriage.
Confusion about contraceptives and abortifacients:
Contraceptives, like condoms, prevent pregnancy. Abortifacients, like RU-486 (called Mifegymiso in Canada) end an established pregnancy.
Some are in the form of medication. Others, including condoms and IUDs (Intra-Uterine Device), take the form of contraceptive devices. They work in different ways:
Unfortunately, there is no concensus about the definition when pregnancy and human personhood begins:
To further confuse matters, when Emergency Contraception (EC) was originally developed, the precise mechanism(s) by which it worked was unknown. There were originally suspected to be three possibilities. EC might:
Further research revealed that the third possibility was extremely unlikely or impossible. However, most religious and social conservatives rejected this evidence and still proclaim that EC often works by preventing implantation.
Thus, whether emergency contraception (EC) pills like Plan B as a contraceptive or an abortifacient often depends upon a person's religious beliefs. It might take many years to resolve this conflict.
Still another complication is that originally, in the United States, the FDA required manufaturers of EC to print a statement on the box stating that the pills might prevent implantation. The manufacturers have asked to have this requirement lifted, but have not been successful.
Preventing pregnancies among teens:
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Copyright © 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious