Christians and Birth Control, by Stephanie Gray


     When I present about abortion, I’m sometimes asked about birth control. There are those who think that if one is against abortion one should surely be in favor of birth control; after all, wouldn’t increasing the latter decrease the former? Actually it does not, as I address here. I think a more fundamental question, though, is not “Will birth control decrease or increase abortion?” but rather, “Is birth control morally acceptable?”

     That came up at a recent presentation I gave at a Christian church in my home city of Vancouver, Canada. This topic is often framed as a Catholic-Protestant debate, with the Catholic church teaching contraception is morally wrong and many Protestant churches accepting some forms of contraception. This difference, however, is a new phenomenon. And by “new” I mean the last 90 years. The history of churches of various denominations claiming to follow Christ for the previous 2,000 years has been one where contraception has been rejected—until the Anglicans first embraced it in 1930. I therefore believe a solid, Biblical case can be made for objecting to birth control—appealing to all people who claim to follow Christ, regardless of denominational differences. A series I wrote, accessible in this PDF, will endeavor to do just that.


Header image source: Wikimedia Commons, BruceBlaus



Thankful for Fertility? by Stephanie Gray


     It was shortly after 10pm on a summer night and I was texting with my sister.  As a mother of 5 under 11, her days are long and full.  And in our brief exchange she conveyed that she was so very tired.  Having visited her earlier in the day I saw that her house was a total disaster.  When I walked in she announced, “This is what a house with 5 children looks like.”  It made sense that she’d be exhausted.  At one point in our text exchange I messaged her, “5 things you’re grateful for?  First 5 that come to your mind.”  When she responded I was struck by the final item on her list:

     5. Fertility

     Her answer provoked me to pause because amidst challenge she could see gift, and because we are living in a culture where the default is not my sister’s answer; instead, it is to suppress fertility.  Actually, our culture’s default is more than to suppress fertility, it is to be downright hostile toward it.  I have spoken to so many abortion supporters who hate that fertility is a part of sexuality.  But what could be more incredible than being so intimate with one human soul that in doing so you produce another human soul who had never before existed?  One plus one equaling three in a way that defies math.

     It doesn’t mean fertility is always easy.  I lived with my sister and her family for a season and I saw the toll that pregnancy takes on the body, let alone the challenges of forming and rearing (several!) little human beings.  But I think it’s helpful to step back and think about what the word “toll” means.  It’s a charge for use or access to something (think bridge toll).  We pay the toll because the benefits outweigh the cost.  And we recognize the greater the value of something, the greater the price. 

     The same day I visited my sister, I drove out to see my parents and to help my dad weed his magnificent garden.  In reflecting on my time rummaging through dirt and in-between flowers and bushes, I was reminded again of the gift of fertility—the fertility of the soil, of the flowers that bloom each year—of new life, which brings an array of colors, types, sizes, and smells.  And it’s the beauty and diversity of fertility that makes the garden so awe-inspiring.

     But the oasis of my Dad’s garden did not happen overnight.  It took years of careful cultivation.  It took work.  It took weeding, watering, digging, and pruning.  It still does.  It took, and takes, a toll.  But it’s more than worth it.

     Mother Teresa once declared, “How can there be too many children?  That is like saying there are too many flowers.”

     So should we be thankful for fertility?  It is fertility that resulted in a sweet 1-year-old nephew nuzzling into my shoulder as I lifted his sleepy body out of the van.  It is fertility that resulted in my delightful 4-year-old niece giving me a long hug before saying goodbye.  It is fertility that has given me a 6-year-old nephew whose sensitive spirit teaches me to go gently with people.  It is fertility that has given me an 8-year-old nephew who loves to challenge my competitive spirit with his own over a game of checkers.  It is fertility that has given me an 11-year-old niece who is learning to play the ukulele with me.  It is fertility that has given me a sister I cherish as a best friend.  It is fertility that has given me my parents and their combined 17 siblings.  It is fertility that has given me a brother-in-law, cousins, and friends around the world. 

     When I logged onto Facebook recently I noticed a friend made this post: “I have made a million mistakes in 14 years of parenting... but one thing I know for sure we did right was being open to life and giving our children siblings. That in itself has not been easy, but we are blessed by it every day.”

     Thankful for fertility?  Yes.





Does Birth Control Prevent Abortion?

This article by Stephanie Gray first appeared in the September issue of LifeCanada's Reflections Magazine.


In the Spring of 2004, I went to the University of Manitoba to help its pro-life student club display an abortion exhibit.  A Buddhist student approached me and said she was “pro-choice” and was concerned that there was no one at the display expressing the opposite perspective to ours.  After a brief discussion she left, but returned an hour later with a friend.  I was struck by their response: They did not hold signs with “pro-choice” slogans, saying our anti-abortion message was wrong; instead, they distributed condoms to passersby.  More protestors came throughout the day and handed out literature about various forms of birth control.

If you were to ask these students why they were protesting an anti-abortion message with a pro-birth control message instead of a pro-abortion message, they would say something like this: “We don’t like abortion.  We think the best way to avoid abortion is to avoid the need for it.  If people don’t have unwanted pregnancies, they won’t have abortions.  Birth control prevents unwanted pregnancies, so birth control prevents abortion.”

But does it?

While birth control is considered to prevent pregnancy, some methods may actually work after pregnancy has begun—thus being capable of ending the life of a tiny human being.  Take the birth control pill: most assume it is a contraceptive (i.e., works contra, against, conception); however, when asked about how birth control pills work, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists state in part, “The lining of the uterus thins, making it less likely that a fertilized egg can attach to it.”[1]  The “fertilized egg” is actually an embryonic human and if that child cannot attach to her mother’s uterus, that child will bleed out in an early, and undetected, abortion. 

So while the birth control pill may prevent some “unwanted” pregnancies (by suppressing ovulation), it may actually end others (by the mechanism described above).  But even if the birth control pill never had the mechanism to affect the pre-born child’s ability to implant, even if it was truly contraceptive, does it prevent abortion overall?

Decades of birth control pill and abortion usage gives us a clear answer: No.  All the while birth control has been on the rise for decades, abortion has been too.  This actually shouldn’t be surprising because birth control was created to divorce babies from sex and abortion does the same.  So while the means of the two can be different (prevent a baby from existing versus ending the life of a baby who exists), the end result is the same (sex without babies).

The connection between birth control and abortion can even be seen in the timelines of their entrance into modern culture: In 1960 in the United States, the birth control pill was approved for contraceptive use.[2]  Nine years later in Canada the Trudeau government made it legal to disseminate, sell and advertise birth control products.[3]  That same year in Canada, legal abortion made its way into the country, and just three years later the same happened in America.  With there being over 1 million abortions annually in the US[4] and approximately 100,000 abortions annually in Canada[5], all alongside widespread birth control usage, it is simply wrong to conclude birth control prevents abortion.

If anything, birth control actually creates an environment for abortion.  Indeed, even the pro-abortion organization Guttmacher Institute admits, “Fifty-one percent of women who have abortions had used a contraceptive method in the month they got pregnant…”[6]

That statistic is backed up in the mentality of many who think birth control usage actually gives people license for abortion access.  Consider a pro-abortion pre-law student who said the following to me at a pro-life exhibit:

“If someone used several methods of contraception then they shouldn't be forced to keep a child in their uterus.  If my body is like a house, use of contraception is like locking your doors.  And if someone breaks into your house when your doors are locked, it's not your fault and you can kick them out.  Maybe if someone didn't use contraception abortion would not be reasonable (analogous to keeping your doors open and inviting someone in, a degree of negligence in a way), but with the presence of contraception, I'm putting up a 'keep off my property' sign.”

One could actually use this student’s own illustration to rebut her point, saying that because no birth control is 100% effective, using birth control is like putting up a “keep off my property” sign a certain percentage of the time, but for the other percentage (i.e., failure rate), it is like putting up a “come on in” welcome sign. 

More fundamentally, though, her point shows that birth control usage and abortion are fruits from the same tree: they are connected in that both attack the bond between sex and new life.  In the minds of many in our culture, when birth control fails to adequately keep life separated from sex, abortion is a reasonable follow up.  That is why birth control will not prevent abortion.

[1] “Frequently Asked Questions: Contraception,” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Accessed July 30, 2015.

[2] “A brief history of the birth control pill,” Alexandra Nikolchev, Accessed July 30, 2015.

[3] “Triumph of the Pill: The Pill Turns 50,” John Allemang, Accessed July 30, 2015.

[4] “Fact Sheet: Induced Abortion in the United States,” Accessed July 30, 2015.

[5] “Annual Abortion Rates,” Accessed July 30, 2015.

[6] “Fact Sheet: Induced Abortion in the United States.”  This particular fact sources the following: Jones RK, Frohwirth L and Moore AM, More than poverty: disruptive events among women having abortions in the USA, Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, 2012, 39(1):36–43.