Does Contraception Lead to Abortion?
“No matter how thin you slice it, ladies and gentlemen, family planning is a euphemism. We don’t intend or desire to prevent conception for conception’s sake; we want to prevent conception because of what follows conception. Family planning is the prevention of births, and as birth is the end of a sequence which begins with the sexual urge, then family planning is anti-conception, anti-nidation, and the termination of the conceptus if implanted. This is the societal role of abortion in the future.”
― Professor Irvin Cushner of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in 19711
In 1986, Father Paul Marx, the founder of Human Life International, gave an excellent talk on contraception in my home town of Portland, Oregon. I met him afterwards and explained that I still didn’t understand the connections between contraception and abortion. After all, I asked, “Isn’t contraception designed to reduce the incidence of abortion?” For a moment, he stared at me as if I had suddenly sprouted a third eye in the middle of my forehead. Then he said, “Ve haff to talk.”
Half an hour later, I understood.
The Pro-Life Movement and Contraception
The pro-life movement is currently divided into two schools of thought on the link between contraception and abortion.
The first group either sees no connection between the two practices, or takes a “no official position” stance on contraception in order to avoid controversy or to focus attention solely on abortion. But more and more pro-life groups and individuals have seen their many connections and realize that, as long as contraception is widely available and the underlying anti-life mentality reigns, the practice of abortion will never end.
Regardless of what a person thinks about the links between abortion and contraception, he should consider the following, and perhaps reflect on the relevance of contraception to his own life.
Even committed Christians rarely discuss the moral aspects of contraception any more. Mortal sin has become just another brightly-packaged consumer item on the grocery store shelf. Despite this profound silence, it remains one of the major life issues of our time because it serves as the foundation of the practice of abortion. Wherever contraception leads, abortion always follows, whether for a married couple, for a church denomination, or for an entire country.
At one time, the Protestant churches were united in opposing both contraception and abortion. After the Anglicans accepted contraception in limited cases during their 1930 Lambeth Conference, resistance to all of the anti-life practices unraveled with amazing speed. All but a few of the many Protestant denominations now accept or at least tolerate contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, euthanasia, and pornography. Today, most of the churches that actively oppose abortion are those that have steadfastly defended the Christian tradition against birth control.
The Sequential Connection
In Western nations, pro-abortion groups work for school-based birth control clinics and comprehensive sex education programs that include training children in the use of contraceptives. Alan Guttmacher revealed one of the primary purposes of value-free sex education when he admitted, “The only avenue the International Planned Parenthood Federation and its allies could travel to win the battle for abortion on demand is through sex education.”2
The pro-abortion/population control strategy in the Southern Hemisphere is different. Population control groups spend billions of dollars annually in order to saturate developing nations with birth control. They know very well that contraception fails frequently, leading to an increasing demand for illegal abortion. Women begin to die from these illegal abortions, so the population controllers hugely exaggerate these numbers and then demand the legalization of abortion. This is a tried and tested formula that has worked successfully in more than one hundred nations.
The ultimate objective of the population controllers is to legalize abortion worldwide. NSSM-200, written in 1974, has not been amended and thus continues to represent official United States population control policy. It says, “No country has reduced its population growth without resorting to abortion.”3
Pro-abortionists, population controllers, “family planners” and sex educators all over the world falsely claim as part of their propaganda campaigns that as contraceptive and abortifacient use increases, “unwanted pregnancies” and both illegal and legal abortions will decrease. At first glance, this allegation seems logical. After all, authentic (non-abortifacient) contraception is designed to stop conceptions and, if more conceptions are prevented, fewer abortions will occur.
As Father Marx explained to me long ago, however, this theory does not work in the real world, because the large-scale use of contraceptives and abortifacients leads to a tremendously increased rate of sexual activity, which, combined with method and user failures, leads to a huge increase in the number of “unplanned pregnancies.”
But science and history do not deter the “family planners,” who continue to claim that increased contraceptive use reduces the number of abortions. They know that this message will appeal to the large segment of the public that uncritically accepts their assertions.
It would seem to be counterintuitive that a wider use of artificial contraception would lead to a great increase in the number of abortions, since the stated purpose of contraception is to prevent “unwanted” conceptions that lead to abortion.
However, there are two methods by which a greater general public use of contraceptives will lead to more, not less abortions.
- Both of the co-inventors of the birth control pill have confessed that a greater use of contraceptives has led to greater promiscuity and carelessness, which inevitably leads to more abortions. Dr. Robert Kistner said, “For years I thought the pill would not lead to promiscuity, but I’ve changed my mind. I think it probably has.”4 And Dr. Min-Chueh Chang said, “[Young people] indulge in too much sexual activity…. I personally feel the pill has rather spoiled young people. It’s made them more permissive.”5
- Secondly, contraception is failure-prone, but people put so much confidence in it because it is advertised as being reliable. There are more than two million contraceptive failures in the United States annually, half of which end in abortion.6 In fact, more than half of all women currently obtaining abortions were using contraception when they got pregnant.7
Up until the early 1980s, the most famous pro-abortion leaders admitted that an increase in contraceptive availability inevitably leads to an increase in promiscuity and therefore abortions. None other than America’s most famous “sexologist,” Alfred Kinsey, admitted, “At the risk of being repetitious, I would remind the group that we have found the highest frequency of induced abortion in the group which, in general, most frequently uses contraceptives.”8And the world’s most experienced abortion statistician, Christopher Tietze, said:
A high correlation between abortion experience and contraceptive experience can be expected in populations to which both contraception and abortion are available…. Women who have practiced contraception are more likely to have had abortions than those who have not practiced contraception, and women who have had abortions are more likely to have been contraceptors than women without a history of abortion.9
Malcolm Potts, former Medical Director of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), acknowledged the contraception-abortion link in 1981 when he said, “As people turn to contraception, there will be a rise, not a fall, in the abortion rate.”10 Dr. Judith Bury of Canada’s Brook Advisory Centre confirmed Potts’ view when she said, “There is overwhelming evidence that, contrary to what you might expect, the provision of contraception leads to an increase in the abortion rate.”11
People’s laziness about using contraception has naturally morphed into laziness regarding abortion. Canadian sex educator David Robinson stated, “Today abortion is the most widely used birth control method in the world.”12
Indeed, some gender feminists see no distinction whatever between artificial contraception and abortion, seeing both as part of an unbroken continuum. Kristin Luker, in her revealingly-entitled book Taking Chances: Abortion and the Decision Not to Contracept, says, “We would argue that since abortion has become a primary method of fertility control, it should be offered and subsidized in exactly the same way that other contraceptive services are.”13
The thinking behind the use of contraception is quite straightforward. Once a couple starts using contraception, they make lifestyle changes and commitments that do not allow room for children. When contraception fails and they become pregnant, their “life plan” wins out over their preborn children. Additionally, they have been conditioned to see their preborn child not as a gift from God, but as a “contraceptive failure” or a “mistake.” Since their contraceptive method has failed them, they feel cheated and therefore “entitled” to an abortion — using one method of medical technology to cover up for the failure of another.
View of the “Family Planners”
The primary mission of the research arm of the vast “family planning” industry is to develop more and more effective abortifacients. Every year, fewer women use true contraceptives and more are using abortifacient chemicals.
There are several reasons why abortifacients are preferable to contraceptives from a “family planning” point of view. To begin with, abortifacients are much more effective at ending pregnancies than contraceptives are at preventing them. The best user (“real world”) effectiveness rates of the birth control pills, the IUDs, the injectables and the insertables average about 96-98%, and the best user effectiveness rates for the male and female condoms, cervical cap, diaphragm and sponge average only about 80%.14
There is another reason that “family planners” prefer that women use abortifacients. Despite all of the propaganda promoting “woman-controlled” birth control, the population controllers are actually more interested in increasing their own control of women’s fertility, primarily in developing nations. Abortifacients put more control into the hands of the medical profession and mean more money for the international pharmaceutical cartel than true contraceptives do. Abortifacients must be prescribed by health professionals. By contrast, contraceptives are controlled by the user.
Greater abortifacient use will ensure that physicians–and, in some cases, the state–will be able to strictly monitor and even control the fertility of the people. This is now happening in the People’s Republic of China and has happened on a smaller scale in more than thirty other nations.
The Legal Connection
The sequential link between contraception and abortion is not the only connection, however, between the two.
More than 25 years ago, pro-abortion lawyer Frank Susman recognized that the “rights” of abortion and contraception now actually merge:
For better or for worse, there no longer exists any bright line between the fundamental right that was established in Griswold and the fundamental right of abortion that was established in Roe. These two rights, because of advances in medicine and science, now overlap. They coalesce and merge and they are not distinct. The most common forms of contraception today–IUDs, low-dose oral contraceptive pills, which are the safest type of oral contraceptive pills available–act as abortifacients.15
The principle used to justify all anti-life practices in the United States is the “right to privacy,” which is not actually mentioned in the Constitution of the Unites States. The United States Supreme Court first used this term in its 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision, which legalized contraception for married couples nationwide. Three years later, the Court extended this “right” to unmarried people. And, of course, five years after that, it quickly applied the “right to privacy” to abortion in its Roe v. Wade decision.
Every American values personal privacy. Everyone wants the government to interfere with their private lives as infrequently as possible. So the “right to privacy” is used as a cover to justify practices that the public will not accept until it has been exposed to them for years. We can see this principle at work in the seamless progression from contraception to abortion to euthanasia. And the “right to privacy” is also used to justify homosexual acts, adultery, infanticide and all kinds of pornography.
The public has “evolved” to accept acts that were once universally believed to be immoral and loathsome. Anti-lifers now label any opposition to abortion, euthanasia, pornography and other evils “anti-choice,” “anti-freedom,” and “anti-American.”
The Psychological Connection
So there are legal, medical and practical connections between contraception and abortion. But they all pale in comparison to the most important connection of all: the fact that the belief system which accepts contraception will inevitably require abortion.
Most people–including most Christians–use contraception because they can’t afford a baby, they have problems with their relationships, they want to avoid single parenthood, they aren’t ready for the responsibility, they have all the children they want, or they are concerned about how a child (or another child) would change their lives.
These are exactly the same reasons women give for having abortions.16 Underlying them all is the fundamental denial of God’s design of man and woman as sexual beings, and His plan for children in our lives. People today want to “plan” their families.
Why does a couple contracept? Because they don’t want a child. Why don’t they want a child? Because they have made Important Plans for Their Lives. And when contraception fails, the resulting “unplanned” child is often seen as an intruder, one who will spoil the couple’s carefully laid plans.
And when a couple has denied God’s plan for their lives once through contraception, it is so much easier to do it again through abortion. As St. Teresa of Calcutta observed:
In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gifts of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.17
For decades, pro-abortionists have worked to blur the distinction between abortion and contraception in people’s minds. For example, a writer for “Catholics” for Choice said:
If RU-486 is also used monthly, pro-lifers would have a hard time convincing the public that the drug isn’t just another contraceptive. Indeed, a 1982 New York Times story on [Etienne-Emile] Baulieu and RU-486 described the drug as “a new birth control pill.” Planned Parenthood released a “Fact Sheet” in October that refers to RU-486 as a type of “interceptor (luteal contraception).” If most people hear a new drug described as “birth control,” they’ll think of the Pill and IUD, not abortion.18
And the National Abortion Federation has said, “If RU-486 is referred to as an ‘abortion pill,’ it has significantly less support than if it is called a new form of birth control. In many polls, the description can change support by as much as 15-20 points and determine if a majority of those polled are in favor of the Pill.”19
Conclusion: Pro-Lifers and Birth Control
Some pro-life activists will certainly be offended by the classification of artificial contraception as “anti-life,” because they have completely separated contraception from abortion in their minds. As far as they are concerned, abortion and artificial contraception are two entirely separate issues.
I used to think that way until HLI founder Father Paul Marx set me straight.
Many pro-life activists use artificial contraception. In fact, it is safe to say that many pro-life women use “birth control” methods that are actually abortifacients. These men and women may not want to hear that they may be committing one or more “silent” abortions themselves every year, but it would not be intellectually or ethically honest to deny the truth in this matter. It is extremely ironic that a “pro-life” woman who uses an intrauterine device or the Pill for a decade will suffer ten to twenty “silent” abortions, while a pro-abortion woman using the same methods may only commit only one or two additional abortions through surgical means.
Alfonso Cardinal Lopez Trujillo, former Prefect of the Pontifical Council on the Family, said:
Getting human sexuality “right” is one of the great challenges of our time. Meeting this challenge is very much part of the work of the pro-life movement. The mysterious links between sexuality, life, and death are part of our psychology and our experience of life. The anti-life mentality began, not with abortion, but by separating sexuality from the transmission of life in contraception and sterilization. As the Holy Father points out in Evangelium Vitae [¶13], “Despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected.”
I invite everyone here to think seriously about the roots of the anti-life mentality. I urge you never to fall for the shallow argument that providing widespread contraception will reduce the number of abortions.20
Evangelium Vitae [¶13] points out, “Contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree.”
As such, all of this tree’s fruits–whether they be contraception, abortion, euthanasia, homosexual activity, masturbation, or pornography–are poisonous to the soul. Everyone who genuinely seeks God’s will for his or her life must avoid them like the spiritual plagues they truly are.
 Professor Irvin Cushner, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, at the Symposium on Implementation of Therapeutic Abortion, International Hotel, Los Angeles, January 22 to 24, 1971. Quoted in the Marriage and Family Newsletter, July 1971, page 3.
 Alan Guttmacher quote of May 3, 1973, Humanity Magazine, August/September 1979, page 11.
 National Security Study Memorandum 200, “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth For U.S. Security and Overseas Interests,” December 10, 1974. Special footnote, “Worldwide Abortion Practices.”
 Dr. Robert Kirstner of Harvard Medical School, co-inventor of the oral contraceptive pill, quoted in “In Brief: Harvard, Mass.” ALL About Issues, June 1981, page 5.
 Dr. Min-Chueh Chang, co-inventor of the oral contraceptive pill, quoted in Charles E. Rice. “Nature’s Intolerance of Abuse.” ALL About Issues, August 1981, page 6.
 Based upon data from the ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States 2019, the Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2017 – Data Finder, and Contraceptive Technology (21st Revised Edition), 2018, the failure rate for all methods of birth control were compiled and cross-checked and then multiplied by the number of women who use each method. This yields the total number of failures attributable to each method of birth control.
See Excel Spreadsheet F-21-03.XLS, “Statistics on Birth Control Methods Used by Women of Childbearing Age in the United States, and Total Annual Contraceptive Failures.” For a copy of this spreadsheet, e-mail Brian Clowes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Rachel K. Jones, Jacqueline E. Darroch and Stanley K. Henshaw. “Contraceptive Use Among U.S. Women Having Abortions in 2000-2001.” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health [formerly Family Planning Perspectives] [Guttmacher Institute], November/December 2002 [Volume 34, Number 6], pages 294 to 303. Table 1, “Percentage Distribution of Women Obtaining Abortions in 2002, by Contraceptive Method Used in the Month of Conception, and of Women at Risk of Unintended Pregnancy in 1995, by Contraceptive Method Used.”
 Alfred Kinsey, America’s most famous “sexologist,” quoted in Mary Calderone, M.D. [Editor]. Abortion in the United States [New York: Paul B. Hoeber, Inc., 1956], page 157.
 Christopher Tietze. “Abortion and Contraception.” In Abortion: Readings and Research [Toronto: Butterworth & Co.], 1981, pages 54 to 60.
 Malcolm Potts. “Fertility Rights.” The Guardian, April 25, 1979.
 Judith Bury, M.D., Brook Advisory Centre. “Sex Education for Bureaucrats.” The Scotsman, June 29, 1981. Also quoted in Rudolf Ehmann, M.D., “Consequences of Contraception and Abortifacient Birth Control,” Human Life International pamphlet.
 David Robertson, et al. Sex Education: A Teacher’s Guide. The Canadian Ministry of National Health and Welfare, Volume 4, pages 24 and 25.
 Kristin Luker. Taking Chances: Abortion and the Decision Not to Contracept, 1975, page 144.
 Robert A. Hatcher, et. al. Contraceptive Technology (18th Revised Edition) [New York: Ardent Media, Inc.], 2004. Table 31-1, “Percentage of Women Experiencing an Unintended Pregnancy During the First Year of Typical Use and the First Year of Perfect Use of Contraception and the Percentage Continuing Use at the End of the First Year. United States,” page 792.
Spermicides include foams, creams, gels, vaginal suppositories, and vaginal films. The female condom “Reality” is known as “Femy” in Spain and “Femidom” in the rest of the world.
Annual rates are not applicable since RU-486 effectiveness is measured on a per-use basis. For further information on the RU-486 abortion pill, see Chapter 2 of The Facts of Life, “Abortifacients.”
Eight major studies on the effectiveness of typical methods of natural family planning in the 1990s show an average user failure rate of 2.8%. These studies were carried out in a wide variety of cultures in Moslem, Hindu, Chinese and Christian cultures. The user failure rates by country were: United Kingdom 2.7%, Indonesia 2.5%, India 2.0%, Germany 2.3%, Liberia 4.3%, Europe 2.4%, China 4.4%, and Belgium 1.7% [Bob Ryder and Hubert Campbell. “Natural Family Planning in the 1990s.” The Lancet, July 22, 1995, page 233. Also see R.E.J. Ryder. “”Natural Family Planning:” Effective Birth Control Supported by the Catholic Church.” British Medical Journal, 1993;307:723-726].
 “Excerpts of Arguments before Supreme Court on Missouri Abortion Law.” Washington Post, April 27, 1989, page A16.
 Aida Torres and Jacqueline Darroch Forrest. “Why Do Women Have Abortions?” Family Planning Perspectives, July/August 1988, pages 169 to 176.
 Mother Teresa of Calcutta. “Whatever You Did Unto One of the Least, You Did Unto Me.” Address given at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., Thursday, February 3, 1994.
 Tony Kaye. “Are You for RU-486?: A New Pill and the Abortion Debate.” Conscience [newsletter of ‘Catholics’ for a Free Choice (CFFC}], July/August 1986 [Volume VII, Number 4], pages 15 to 17.
 National Abortion Federation. Abortion: Moral Choice and Medical Imperative. “Abortion Practice Advancement, Sixteenth Annual Meeting Workbook, April 13-14, 1992, San Diego, California,” page 133, “Successful Strategies: Managing the Media.”
 From the address by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, given March 23, 1996 in Westminster Central Hall, London. “Evangelium Vitae and the Pro-Life Movement.”
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Dr. Brian Clowes has been HLI’s director of research since 1995 and is one of the most accomplished and respected intellectuals in the international pro-life movement. Best known as author of the most exhaustive pro-life informational resource volume The Facts of Life, and for his Pro-Life Basic Training Course, Brian is the author of nine books and over 500 scholarly and popular articles, and has traveled to 70 countries on six continents as a pro-life speaker, educator and trainer.