Birth control

method of preventing human pregnancy or birth

Birth control, also known as contraception and fertility control, is a method or device used to prevent pregnancy.

There are three classes of people who have always been objectors to any form of birth control, and who have always opposed any measures which would enable parents to have children by choice rather than by chance. These are, first, the war leaders; second, the church leaders; and, third, the leaders in the commercial world who have wanted cheap labor. ~ William Hawley Smith

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  • The difference between human beings and other species is that only human beings practise birth control.
    • Al-Jahiz (in a book about the animal king¬dom). Quoted in Lucas Catherine: Islam voor Ongelovigen (EPO, Antwerp 1997), p.215. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad. (1997) The Demographic Siege.
  • Exposure to all forms of violence may influence the choices that women make regarding contraceptive use. Women’s perceptions and experience of loss of reproductive control may affect their decisions to use contraception, lead to decreased conviction to use condoms, or result in partner control over administration and type of contraception used. Gee et al. demonstrated that, because of difficulties imposed by their partners, women with exposure to intimate partner violence were less likely than nonexposed women to use birth control. Compared with women without violence exposure, women with a history of intimate partner violence reported that their male partners were more likely to refuse to use condoms (21% vs 7%; P < .001) and to refuse to allow contraception (5% vs 1%; P < .001). Women exposed to violence were also less likely than their nonexposed peers to ask their partners to wear condoms (35% vs 56%; P < .001). Finally, previous experiences of abuse, particularly those occurring in childhood, might have an impact on contraceptive choices via alternate pathways including depression, substance abuse, and alcohol use.
    In light of these findings, women who experience histories of abuse may benefit from contraceptive methods that are independent of their partners. In this analysis, we sought to estimate the association of childhood, adult, and lifetime exposure to physical, emotional, or sexual abuse with contraceptive method selection and duration of use for both long-acting reversible contraception (LARC; intrauterine devices and hormonal implant) and non–long-acting methods of contraception (non-LARC; birth-control pill, injection, ring, or patch) in the Contraceptive CHOICE Project (CHOICE).
  • In this study of women seeking contraception, almost 1 in 3 women reported a history of sexual abuse or repeated experiences of emotional or physical abuse. Our findings highlight the large proportion of women who have experienced abuse in their lifetimes and the association of abuse with contraceptive method selection and discontinuation. Women with histories of abuse who select non-LARC methods may benefit from enhanced counseling as significant differences in contraceptive continuation existed by 6 months after initiation. Differences in continuation of LARC methods were modest and our data sup-port current recommendations that LARC should be offered as first-line contraceptive methods. A health care provider who identifies a woman with a history of abuse should consider the patient’s ability to maintain ongoing use, discuss LARC methods as the most effective contraceptive options to prevent pregnancy, and provide optimal contraceptive management in a manner that is effective, private, and safe.


In the latter part of the 20th century, people began to put forward the effect of population control upon the environment as a justification for regulation of fertility, independent of economic concerns.
However, many people would have serious moral objections to plans to use contraception in order to control population.
One objection that isn't covered here is that the real cause of poverty and damage is overconsumption by a few, and that if rich nations stopped consuming far more than their fair share of resources there would be no need for population control to be applied unfairly to poor nations. ~ BBC
  • There are a number of general objections that can apply to any mass contraception programme.
    Imperialism: Both the following can be regarded as forms of imperialism:
    rich countries funding contraceptive programmes in the third world
    rich countries demanding the implementation of birth control programmes in exchange for financial or other aid
    Cultural imperialism: Bringing birth control to a community that has previously avoided it will inevitably change the relationships and power dynamics within that community. It's important to take appropriate precautions to minimise the impact of contraception on cultures to which it is introduced.
    Human rights: Mass birth control interferes with a person's right to have as many children as they wish
    Eugenics: Mass birth control programmes may be used to reduce the birth rate of certain classes, castes or ethnic groups
    Gender bias: The majority of mass birth-control programmes operate by controlling only female fertility. This is because there are long-term female contraceptives such as the pill, hormone implants, and IUDs, but no male equivalents. As a result:
    women unfairly bear the burden of population control
    female fertility is treated as something dangerous that needs to be controlled
    this gender bias operates regardless of the good intentions behind programmes of mass contraception.


  • The regulation of births, which is an aspect of responsible fatherhood and motherhood, is objectively morally acceptable when it is pursued by the spouses without external pressure; when it is practiced not out of selfishness but for serious reasons; and with methods that conform to the objective criteria of morality, that is, periodic continence and use of the infertile periods.
    • Compedium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, question 497.
  • Birth control as it is now practised in the United States is bound to bring about a notable decline in our white population in the near future. Skilled statisticians predict that in twenty or thirty years our nation will cease to grow and begin to diminish, unless there occurs some extraordinary immigrational influx or widespread change in the attitude toward birth control. When the decline becomes pronounced and rapid, the government will probably become concerned in the matter, like the government of France, which is now making strenuous efforts to induce married couples to produce more children. It is not at all unlikely that the babies who are being born in the United States today will receive similar inducements from our government before they are too old to bear offspring. Even now there are many thoughtful men and women in our land who are gravely disturbed over the decline of the population and are engaged in a campaign for more births, although some of them continue to advocate the use of contraception by persons whose offspring are liable to be unsound in mind or in body.


  • The two great sources of the opposition to Birth Control are found in the purely selfish motives of the religionist who wishes his people kept in ignorance of Birth Control and its methods so that they will beget children and yet more children for the glory of God and the Church, and the capitalistic exploiter of labor who is afraid of a diminution in the cheap labor supply.
    • Lydia Allen DeVilbiss, Birth Control: What is It? (1925), p. 36



  • The ulema declare: If need be, then, as long as the excuse lasts, one can use contraceptive methods, but, frankly speaking, it is sheer ingratitude for divine bounty that one gets oneself deprived of offspring through tubectomy without a legal excuse. The Holy Prophet (pbuh.!) has said: ‘Contract marriage with women who love more and beget more children so that on account of your multitudinousness on the Day of Judgement I may take pride in your number vis-à-vis the other ummahs’ (Mishkat). God is the Provider; He will provide for you as well as your children. The children’s provider is God, not we. He who supplied nourishment in the mother’s womb, He will provide it after birth also. The list of livelihood the offspring bring with them from the mother’s womb and they will receive their quota according to the same. Why should then one entertain such thoughts? The Divine Commandment is: ‘And that ye slay not your children because of penury—We provide for you and for them’ (6:151). At another place it has been said: ‘Slay not your children, fearing a [fall to poverty]; We shall provide for them and for you’ (17:31). It is reported in a hadith that certain Companions, in order to save themselves from sins and wordly worries and to engage themselves in devotions, expressed the wish to get themselves castrated. The Holy Prophet (pbuh.!) did not permit it and recited the Quranic verse: ‘O ye who believe ! Fobid not the good things which Allah hath made lawful for you, and transgress not. Lo! Allah loveth not transgressors’ (V. 87). (Bukh., vol. ii, p.759). It is conclusively proved from this that castration, that is, the discontinuance of procreation artificially is unlawful (haram) according to the explicit verse of the Quran also and is included in transgression from the limits fixed by God. Hence an operation that discontinues procreation is unanimously unlawful (UQ, vol. xx, p. 72)... And the jurisconsults have said: ‘Castration of men is forbidden’ (haram). (DM & S., vol. v, p. 342). And: ‘And that ye slay not your children because of penury—We provide for you and for them.’ (VI: 151). And: ‘Slay not your children, fearing a fall to poverty.We shall provide for them and for you.’ (XVII: 31).
    • Fatawa-i-Raihimiyyah, Quran, Hadis, quoted in Arun Shourie - The World of Fatwas Or The Sharia in Action (2012, Harper Collins).
  • When the Companions asked the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho Aliaihe wa sallaml) about coitus interruptus (‘azl), he said: ‘This is like burying a live child.’ And this is the same which has been described in the Quranic verse: ‘And when the girl-child that was buried alive is asked’ (LXXXI) (Vide Muslim Sharif, vol. i, p. 466; Mishkat Sharif, p. 276). In Path al-Mulhim Sharh-e Sahih-e Muslim, Allamah Shabbir Ahmed Usmani quotes that Qazi has written that the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho Aliaihe wa sallam!) has determined coitus interruptus ‘a hidden burial’, that is, to waste the seed which Allah Most High had prepared for procreation is like infanticide and burying the child alive. The result is the same: the only difference is that it is not buried alive openly and hence it has been called hidden. There is a hadith in the Bukhari Sharif to the effect that when the Companions, on account of their zest of engaging in devotions and in order to avoid sins and for remaining aloof from relations, expressed the desire to get themselves castrated, the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wa sallam!) did not allow them and adduced the Quranic verse, ‘O ye who believe: Forbid not the good things which Allah hath made lawful for you, and transgress not. Lo! Allah loveth not transgressors’ (V: 87), in proof. Even as the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho Alaihe wa sallam!) has, by this verse, determined castration to be unlawful, it is obvious that the termination of propagation under the family planning scheme will also be included under this order.
    • Fatawa-i-Raihimiyyah, Quran, Hadis, quoted in Arun Shourie - The World of Fatwas Or The Sharia in Action (2012, Harper Collins).


  • Since certain portions of the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2012, birth control has become free for many American women, since the law requires most insurance plans to cover contraception without charging individuals. According to the CDC, roughly 62 percent of American women of childbearing age used some sort of contraception as of 2013. Yet according to a report by a company that tracks the pharmaceuticals industry, women aren’t necessarily using more birth control. For example, the number of prescriptions for the pill—the most popular form of contraception—has only increased slightly the past half decade, rising from 93 to 95 million between 2009 and 2013.
    Theoretically, more affordable birth control might lead to fewer unintended pregnancies. It’s still unclear how the Affordable Care Act will affect this number; the latest data available is from 2010, when roughly 37 percent of births were either unintended or mistimed, according to the CDC.


  • Birth control should be resorted to only in cases of extreme necessity, such as the wife's ill-health owing to constant births. Imam Abu Hanifa holds it makruh (abominable).
    • M. Imran: Ideal Woman, Delhi 1994 (1981), p.66.


  • I similarly appraise the right of men and women to full knowledge of all that the sciences of nature and man have established regarding sex and reproduction, and to decide for themselves upon the number of children they want and the intervals at which they want them.
    • Horace M. Kallen, “An Ethic of Freedom: A Philosopher’s View”, ‘’N.Y.U.I.R 31:1167 (November 1956). Cf. Glanville Williams, “The Control of Conception”, in The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law, New York 1957, pp. 34-74
  • In Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance (Harvard University Press, 1992), Riddle proposed that effective contraception began in the ancient world: "the ancients discovered what we only recently rediscovered". In Eve's Herbs he concentrates on the period from the Middle Ages to the present day, arguing that contraceptive knowledge gradually became less easily available to women because the witch-hunts killed the wise women. He again makes extensive use both of comparative studies of world-wide plant folklore and of laboratory work on the chemical efficacy of the materials used.


  • It is "one of the fundamental tenets of Islam -- namely, to multiply the tribe."
    • Saeed Naqvi: Reflections of an Indian Mus¬lim (Har-Anand, Delhi 1993), p.32.
  • Sanger never accepted rhythm as a legitimate form of birth control because of its high failure rate and because it dictated when a couple could or could not have sex. “I disagree with it violently,” she told a friend in 1953. Yet when preparing the program for the Third International Conference on Planned Parenthood in Bombay in 1952, Sanger invited Rock to give a paper on rhythm to placate public health leaders in India. She might have sought Rock’s insights into the topic because he had just published a paper that concluded the rhythm method offered a “satisfactory degree of protection” only to “rigorously selected and carefully instructed wives.” For all others, Rock and his co-authors wrote, “the effectiveness of the method in preventing conception is not considered adequate.” Whether or not Rock was aware of Sanger’s strong views on rhythm, he declined the invitation because he was “pressed for time.” He added that “I thoroughly believe in the work you are doing,” an acknowledgment, perhaps, that he had expanded his advocacy of birth control beyond its use for medical reasons. (Sanger to Edward Steele, Mar. 31, 1953 [quote 1]; Sanger to Rock, June 14, 1952; Rock to Sanger, Aug. 28, 1952 [quotes 5 and 6] [MSM S37:966, S39:409, S41: 197]; Christopher Tietze, Samuel R. Poliakoff and John Rock, “The Clinical Effectiveness of the Rhythm Method of Contraception,” Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey 7:2 [April 1952]: 299-302 [quotes 2-4].)


For centuries, historians paid no attention to ancient accounts that claimed certain plants provided an effective means of birth control. . . . Modern laboratory analysis of various plants [including silphium, asafetida, seeds of Queen Anne's lace, pennyroyal, willow, date palm, pomegranate, inter al.], however, gives us reason to believe that the classical potions were effective, and that women in antiquity had more control over their reproductive lives than previously thought. ~ John M. Riddle
  • Since the 1970s, drugs that interfere with the synthesis, secretion, or peripheral actions of progesterone have been tested as emergency contraceptives because progesterone and its effects on the endometrium are critical for the successful implantation and establishment of a pregnancy. Because of the variability in timing of the administration of the drug, if the emergency contraceptive worked only to prevent ovulation and interfere with fertilization, it would have limited success, so according to researchers,
    to achieve the highest possible efficacy, the ideal emergency contraceptive drug needs to act interceptively; that is, it should be capable of interfering with a physiological event that occurs after fertilization—during the period of early embryonic development prior to implantation. (Von Hertzen and Van Look 1996)
  • The historic fertility declines in Western countries that occurred prior to diffusion of modern contraceptives were achieved primarily through induced abortion, abstinence, and use of traditional methods of contraception, in particular withdrawal. While these alternative means of fertility regulation have also contributed to contemporary fertility declines in developing countries, modern contraception seems to have taken the center stage in the scientific literature and policy debates. Indeed, fertility declines in developing countries have been highly correlated with the diffusion of modern contraception. Sub-Saharan Africa is no exception to this general pattern, although, as is typical in the beginning of fertility transitions, the relationship between fertility decline and contraceptive use is still relatively loose in the region (Westoff and Bankole 2001). It thus seems especially important to consider the role of alternative means of birth control, including traditional contraceptive methods and periods of sexual abstinence or inactivity, in the case of contemporary sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Some research has been conducted on the role of traditional methods in regulating births in the early stages of the fertility transition in contemporary developing countries, most notably on the relationship between induced abortion and contraception (Bongaarts and Westoff 2000; Marston and Cleland 2003; WHO 2011). These studies have generally found that in Latin America, Asia, and North Africa, abortion rates increased during the first phases of fertility decline, as growing demand for fertility regulation outstripped the diffusion of modern contraception, and then declined at later stages when modern contraceptives were more widely used. There is also evidence that a similar pattern is playing out in contemporary sub-Saharan African, with a number of country-specific studies indicating that abortion rates are currently highest among urban women, a finding explained by these women’s greater demand for birth control and the many obstacles remaining to contraceptive use in the region (Singh et al. 2005; Singh et al. 2010; Basinga et al. 2012; Levandowski et al. 2013; Bankole et al. 2014; Sedgh et al. 2015).
  • The use of traditional contraception has received less attention than either abortion or changing patterns of abstinence. The lack of substantive research on these methods likely stems from the fact that traditional methods are both less effective and less often used than modern methods. Contraceptive efficacy is one of the most important aspects of method choice and promotion, and, with typical use, periodic abstinence and withdrawal (the two most commonly used traditional methods) are less effective than nearly all modern methods (Trussell 2004). Moreover, use of these less-effective methods is generally low throughout contemporary regions. According to regional estimates from the United Nations (UN), in sub-Saharan Africa only 5.4 percent of women aged 15–49 in union use traditional methods (periodic abstinence, withdrawal, or other informal methods of contraception), a level that is comparable to Asia (5.6 percent) and Latin America and the Caribbean (6.1 percent) (UN 2013). Within sub-Saharan Africa, however, the prevalence of traditional method use is particularly high in Central Africa, where 12.0 percent of women of reproductive age report using a traditional method. According to the same UN estimates, modern contraceptive prevalence is 19.7 percent for sub-Saharan Africa, which is significantly lower than modern method use in Asia (61.2 percent) or Latin America and the Caribbean (66.6 percent). As a result, traditional method use constitutes a much larger proportion of overall contraceptive use in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Central Africa, and may play an under-appreciated, and certainly under-studied, role in Africa’s fertility transition.


Birth control is the first important step woman must take toward the goal of her freedom. It is the first step she must take to be man’s equal. It is the first step they must both take toward human emancipation. ~ Margaret Sanger
  • Had the monster of 'Birth Control' as an instrument of state policy raised its head in the days of the Holy Prophet, he would surely have declared Jihad against it in the same manner as he waged Jihad against Shirk (polytheism). ... The Qur'an says that 'Children are an ornament of life' and Hadith literature views with favour larger families for the greater strength of Ummah, and as such birth control / family planning cannot be in any way compatible with the Shari'ah.
    • M. Samiullah: Muslims in Alien Society, p.90-97.
  • There are three classes of people who have always been objectors to any form of birth control, and who have always opposed any measures which would enable parents to have children by choice rather than by chance. These are, first, the war leaders; second, the church leaders; and, third, the leaders in the commercial world who have wanted cheap labor.
    • William Hawley Smith, Children by Chance Or by Choice, and Some Correlated Considerations (1920), p. 260
  • “Well, birth control’s easy. The first thing you have to know is that it doesn’t work.”
    “Not consistently. No matter how careful you are, every time you play hide-the-salami with the boys, you’re running the risk of ending up with a belly full of consequences.”
    “Contraceptive spells are never entirely reliable. That’s because their power comes from the Mother, and the Mother wants children. Each cantrip has its loophole, every fetish its flaw. Ultimately, contraception is just a way of luring you into playing her game.”
    “You mean that sooner or later it’s going to fail me?”
    “That’s not what I said. It works well enough for enough of us that the rest will take their chances. But the odds are never going to be as good as you’d like them to be. There are no guarantees.”
  • Islam is one of the few religions that allow for birth control.
    • Yoginder Sikand: "Bogey of family planning and Islam", Observer of Business and Politics, 27-2-1993, with refere¬nce to B.F. Musallam: Sex and Society in Islam (Cambridge 1933). Quoted from Elst, Koenraad. (1997) The Demographic Siege


To improve conditions so that dirt, poverty, and disease will disappear is, of course, the ideal solution. But that, to put it mildly, will take time, involving long-term medical and economic campaigns on a dozen fronts. Birth control, in the meantime, offers immediate help. Its advocates point out that at least the family without much to eat ought to have the choice as to whether it wants to bring another high chair to the table. Birth control, they say, can help to stop the infant and maternal carnage and in the end build a healthier and perhaps even a larger population. ~ Don Wharton
  • Catholic theologians argued that contraception contravened natural law in several ways. First, it separated sex from its natural purpose of procreation. Second, by attempting to prevent the formation of new human life, it challenged God's authority as the Creator. Finally, it treated human life as something to be prevented rather than valued. Contraception introduced a "deadly...cheapening of human life," the Jesuit magazine America charged in 1924. Those who promoted contraception "would destroy the law of God and the law of nature by interfering with human life at its inception. For they would teach the custodians of human life how to frustrate life before birth. In the views of Catholics, this was only a short step removed from abortion. "Does artificial prevention of life stand on any higher moral ground than the artificial taking of life?" Edward J. Heffron, executive secretary of the National Council of Catholic Men, asked in 1942.
    Birth control advocates, including Sanger, disagreed. They saw contraception as an anti-abortion measure, since women would likely have fewer illegal abortions if they had a more convenient and safer way to limit their fertility Catholics disputed this claim. They argued that legalized birth control would actually increase the abortion rate, because people who had been encouraged to try and avoid pregnancy would resort to any means at their disposal-even an illegal abortion-if their contraceptive devices failed. Birth control had "created the mentality which abhors births," Jesuit priest Wilifrid Parsons declared in 1935. It's "inexorable outcome will be the killing by abortion of unwanted babies."
  • To improve conditions so that dirt, poverty, and disease will disappear is, of course, the ideal solution. But that, to put it mildly, will take time, involving long-term medical and economic campaigns on a dozen fronts. Birth control, in the meantime, offers immediate help. Its advocates point out that at least the family without much to eat ought to have the choice as to whether it wants to bring another high chair to the table. Birth control, they say, can help to stop the infant and maternal carnage and in the end build a healthier and perhaps even a larger population.

Cook, Hera, “The long sexual revolution: English women, sex and contraception 1800-1975”, Oxford University Press, (2004)Edit

  • This book began as a project about sexuality and contraception in which maternity had no part. This is how sexuality has been constructed in Western cultures since the mid-twentieth century, but this was the first period in which it was possible for heterosexual women to separate physical sexual activity from the reality of frequent conceptions and births. Even those few who were infertile lived in a society dominated by this experience. The importance of this became obvious during the research and the physical impact of motherhood upon birth rates and hence upon female sexuality has become central to the book. However, although historians had produced valuable research focusing on the impact of eugenic thought and the state on concept of motherhood during the early twentieth century there is no evidence that the pressure this placed upon women had any impact upon birth rates. Birth control was almost entirely a matter of self-help and levels of use of contraception rose persistently from the 1890s when survey records began. When birth rates altered during the twentieth century, it was not according to the desires of eugenicists and population controllers.
    • p.4

James Reed, “The Birth Control Movement and American Society: From Private Vice to Public Virtue”, Princeton University Press, (1984).Edit

In 1962, Population Council gave Guttmacher a grant “to travel around the world to assess what methods of birth control they should back.” He reported that conventional contraceptives were not working and advised the council to invest in development of the IUD. ~ James Reed
  • In 1962, Population Council gave Guttmacher a grant “to travel around the world to assess what methods of birth control they should back.” He reported that conventional contraceptives were not working and advised the council to invest in development of the IUD. The council invited forty-two clinicians to a conference on intrauterine contraception. Tietze remembered the “conspirational air” that surrounded the conference “It was a very exiting period. . . . we were working with something that had been absolutely rejected by the profession . . . we had a great feeling of urgency to produce a method that worked. It seemed to work. Now we had to establish it. And we had to start from scratch.”
    The council invested more than $2.5 million in the clinical testing, improvement, and statistical evaluation of the IUD, which proved to be highly effective for the approximately seven out of ten women who could retain one. Tietze, an unusually candid man with the habit of precise expression, recalls the care with which clinicians were recruited and the effort poured into making sure that their records were accurate.
    There was such a feeling of urgency among professional people, not among the masses, but something had to be done. And this was something that you could do to the people rather than something people could do for themselves. So it made it very attractive to the doers.
    Armed at last with a method that was inexpensive and required little motivation from the user beyond initial acceptance, family planning programs began to have an effect on birth rates in South Korea, Taiwan, and Pakistan. By 1967 a review article in Demography criticized the over optimism of the Population Council technocrats about the prospects for controlling world population growth. Other social scientists claimed that population control was getting too much of the development dollar and pointed out that population control was no substitute for social justice. Lower birth rates did not guarantee a better society. Whether or not world population growth could be controlled remained an unanswered question.
    • p.306-307

“A History of Birth Control Methods“, Planned ParenthoodEdit

Contemporary studies show that, out of a list of eight reasons for having sex, having a baby is the least frequent motivator for most people (Hill, 1997). This seems to have been true for all people at all times. Ever since the dawn of history, women and men have wanted to be able to decide when and whether to have a child. Contraceptives have been used in one form or another for thousands of years throughout human history and even prehistory. In fact, family planning has always been widely practiced, even in societies dominated by social, political, or religious codes that require people to “be fruitful and multiply” —from the era of Pericles in ancient Athens to that of Pope Benedict XVI, today (Blundell, 1995; Himes, 1963; Pomeroy, 1975; Wills, 2000).
Of course, the methods used before the 20th century were not always as safe or effective as those available today. ~ Planned Parenthood

See alsoEdit

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