Conscience, Contraception, and Catholic Health-Care Professionals

Smith, Janet E.
May 2010
Linacre Quarterly;May2010, Vol. 77 Issue 2, p204
The Church's teachings are often very challenging. Those who are involved in the health-care professions and who conduct their practices in accord with Church teaching can expect misunderstanding and even rejection from their colleagues and patients. One of the most difficult teachings of the Church is its condemnation of contraception. In 1968 Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae vitae, which hit the world like a bomb. In it he affirmed the Church's longstanding teaching on human sexuality and condemned contraception in particular. Today scientific advances such as in vitro fertilization and embryonic stem-cell research, as well as the challenges in making moral decisions about end-of-life care, make it increasingly difficult for health-care professionals to practice in accord with their deeply held moral convictions. Developing a properly formed conscience, which is the voice of God, is essential in dealing with these contemporary issues and making right choices. This essay outlines the process for properly forming the conscience. It also explains why prescribing contraception is morally wrong.


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