Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Natural family planning is part of a healthy marriage (BC Courier Times, 7/16/07)


NFP Awareness Week 2007 – a Response to “Go Ask Alice” (6/12/07 submission to BC Courier Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Times of Trenton, & Trentonian)

Thirty years ago, the medical profession still clearly defined “conception” as the meeting of the sperm and the egg. The vast majority of people continues to use “conception,” in that sense. In a Brave New World manner, however, the term has been hijacked to mean “the process of becoming pregnant involving fertilization or implantation or both” <www.m-w.com/dictionary/conception>. Why does this matter?

The sperm and the egg come together in one of the fallopian tubes. The fertilized egg then travels to the new mom’s womb, to implant herself (or himself). In microscopic font typical of information sheets accompanying prescriptions, it’s acknowledged that one manner in which an “oral contraceptive” (i.e., “the pill”) acts is to prevent implantation. According to traditional and popular use of “conception,” that is “abortifacient.” As per Planned Parenthood and elements of the pharmaceutical industry with vast financial interests, that is merely “contraceptive.”

Jefferson Airplane used to tell us that “One pill makes you larger and one pill makes you small” and admonished us to "Feed your head." In regard to birth regulation, America seems to have taken that absurd advice to heart! The National Survey of Family Growth reports that “the pill” remains most popular - among methods believed to be contraceptive. By contrast, a tiny 0.3% of couples utilize “Natural Family Planning” (NFP). When attempting to avoid pregnancy, NFP has been documented to be every bit as effective as “the pill” (Frank-Herrmann, P. et al, 2007). Unlike “the pill,” however, NFP does not risk killing a pre born child.

NFP involves fertility awareness. Such awareness is promoted for infertile couples attempting to conceive – even by practitioners who take no issue with morally controversial methods. As per Jenny Wolsk Bain (2004), for example, "Your body provides a lot of clues....

  • you can chart your cycle by monitoring changes in your basal body temperature....

  • During your most fertile days....Your cervical mucus...becomes watery and stretchy....

  • At the beginning of your cycle, your cervix is low..., firm and closed. As you approach ovulation, it moves up high, softens, and opens slightly" (pp. 26, 27).

If a couple is trying to achieve a pregnancy, NFP equips them with knowledge of when they are most fertile. If a couple needs to try to avoid a pregnancy, they know when to simply abstain from relations. There is no recourse to chemicals or to foreign objects placed in - or on - sensitive areas of the body.

As per the newest CDC data (2007), the U.S. sees 3600 divorces daily. As per the Barna Group (2004), “Born Again Christians [are] just as likely to divorce as are non-Christians.” Among various Christian denominations, Barna reports “Catholics were substantially less likely than Protestants to get divorced (25% versus 39%, respectively). Among the largest Protestant groups, those most likely to get divorced were Pentecostals (44%) while Presbyterians had the fewest divorces (28%).” Interestingly, Barna failed to measure strength of religious affiliation, by such measures as weekly church attendance. In other words, a self-reported Catholic was a Catholic, whether he attended Mass weekly or once every few years. Rutgers’ National Marriage Project maintains that the more strongly affiliated the Catholic (or Pentecostal or Presbyterian), the less likely she or he is to divorce. Any conclusion that religious practice is not a good predictor of marital success is fallacious.

As per the National Marriage Project (2005), “if you are a reasonably well-educated person with a decent income, come from an intact family and are religious, and marry after age twenty five without having a baby first, your chances of divorce are very low indeed.” Coupled with that good news is Mercedes Arzu Wilson’s (2002) report of an astonishing 0.2% divorce rate among NFP users! For its association with marital success alone, you owe it to yourselves and your children to learn more about NFP!

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has designated July 22 - 28 as “Natural Family Planning Awareness Week.” In anticipation, Holy Trinity of Morrisville will host a presentation on “NaPro Technology” by Dr. Brigida De Guzman, an OB/GYN physician. Please join us on July 7th (6:30 pm) in our school hall (Osborne and Stockham Avenues), for this fascinating and enriching presentation.


  • Bain, J. Infertility: Learn to Take Charge of Your Condition. New York: Barnes and Noble, 2004.

  • Barna Group. Born Again Christians Just As Likely to Divorce As Are Non-Christians, September 8, 2004

  • Centers for Disease Control. Births, Marriages, Divorces, & Deaths: Provisional Data for October 2006. National Vital Statistics Report, May 25, 2007.

  • Frank-Herrmann, P., Heil, J., Gnoth, C., Toledo, E., Baur, S., Pyper, C., Jenetzky, E., Strowitzki, T., and Freundl, G. The effectiveness of a fertility awareness based method to avoid pregnancy in relation to a couple’s sexual behavior during the fertile time: a prospective longitudinal study. Human Reproduction, February 20, 2007.

  • Haas, J. "Begotten Not Made: A Catholic View of Reproductive Technology" <www.usccb.org/prolife/programs/rlp/98rlphaa.shtml>

  • Kahlenborn, C., Stanford, J., and Larimore, W. Postfertilization Effect of Hormonal Emergency Contraception. The Annals of Pharmacotherapy: Vol. 36, No. 3, 465–470.

  • Mosher, W. et al. Use of Contraception and Use of Family Planning Services in the United States: 1982–2002. Advance Data from Vital and Health Statistics, December 10, 2004.

  • Roper, N. New American Pocket Dictionary. New York: Charles Scribner & Sons, 1978.

  • Wilson, M. The Practice of Natural Family Planning versus the Use of Artificial Birth Control. www.catholicsocialscientists.org/cssr2002/Article--Wilson.pdf

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