Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia

Family Planning.

1. Term widely used for processes whereby size of family is controlled; often preferred to “birth control” because it includes techniques of achieving as well as avoiding conception. “Planned parenthood” is registered in the US patent office as a service mark. The term “birth control,” first used 1914 by Margaret Sanger (b. 1883; nurse) in the Woman Rebel, a monthly magazine, in a wide sense designates any method of limiting family size, in a narrow sense prevention of conception by chemical or mechanical means.

2. In 1798, in An Essay on the Principle of Population as It Affects the Future Improvement of Society, T. R. Malthus* advocated pop. control by late marriage and continence. Francis Place (1771–1854; Brit. tailor; soc. reformer; helped pass Reform bill 1832; drafted People's Charter) advocated use of contraceptives. R. D. Owen* gave information on method in Moral Physiology. The Am. physician Charles Knowlton (1800–50) was jailed 1832 for explaining birth control in Fruits of Philosophy. In 1877 A. Besant* and C. Bradlaugh* were acquitted of immorality on republishing this tract in England. Publicity attending the trial led to formation of a Malthusian* league in England. Similar leagues were est. in the Neth., Belgium, Fr., and Ger. in the 1880s.

3. Aletta Jacobs (1849–1929; 1st Dutch woman physician to practice in Holland; suffragist) est. the world's 1st birth-control clinic 1878 at Amsterdam. M. Sanger est. 1st US birth-control clinic 1916 in Brooklyn, organized 1st Am. Birth Control conf. 1921, and founded the Am. Birth Control league. The Margaret Sanger Research Bureau (lst permanent birth-control clinic in the US; founded 1923) provided contraceptive services and did research in infertility and marriage counseling. The league and Research Bureau merged 1939 to form the Birth Control Federation of America, Inc. (changed 1942 to Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., New York). The Internat. Planned Parenthood federation was organized at Stockholm, Swed., 1953.

4. The A. M. A. and allied specialty groups endorsed birth control 1937.

5. Legal opposition to birth control changed to endorsement and sponsorship. In the US the socalled Comstock laws of 1873 prohibited sending contraceptive information and devices through the mail (virtually nullified in the 1930s by Fed. court decisions). North Carolina was the 1st state in which pub. health facilities made birth control services available (1937); other states soon followed. By 1957 only Connecticut and Massachusetts enforced laws forbidding physicians to offer contraceptive information; later they also permitted contraceptives for prophylactic purposes, Connecticut being the last to abandon prohibition of contraceptives (1965). In the early 1960s ca. 17 states restricted dissemination of information regarding prevention of conception, but all exempted medical practice. The US Pub. Health Service assists in child-spacing and family planning programs proposed by any state. In the 1950s govts. of other nations (e.g., India, Japan, Egypt, China) began sponsoring birth control.

6. Religious groups formerly opposed birth control. While continuing to oppose abortion,* many endorse or allow contraceptives. The Cen. Conf. of Am. Rabbis (Reform), the Rabbinical Assem. of Am. (Conservative), Unitarians, and Universalists were among early proponents of birth control in the US Through its Committee on Marriage and the Home the FCC in 1938 pub. Moral Aspects of Birth Control favoring birth control. By 1960 most Prots. and Luths. in Am. favored or allowed contraceptives. The encyclical* Casti Connubii (Pius XI, 1930; see Popes, 32) declared that birth control methods that deliberately frustrate the act of matrimony in its natural power to generate life offend the law of God and nature. The encyclical permits abstinence under certain circumstances as a means of child spacing and family limitation. More liberal positions are advocated by some RCs

J. T. Landis and M. G. Landis, “Family Planning,” The Marriage Handbook (New York, 1948), pp. 367–400, and Building a Successful Marriage, 4th ed. (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1963); R. M. Fagley, The Population Explosion and Christian Responsibility (New York, 1960); Religion and Birth Control, ed. J. C. Monsma (New York, 1963); A. M. Rehwinkel, Planned Parenthood and Birth Control in the Light of Christian Ethics (St. Louis, 1959); A. W. Sulloway, Birth Control and Catholic Doctrine (Boston, 1959); J. T. Noonan, Jr., Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1965). EL

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

Internet Version Produced by
The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Original Editions ©Copyright 1954, 1975, 2000
Concordia Publishing House
All rights reserved.

Content Reproduced with Permission

Stay Connected! Join the LCMS Network:

Contact Us Online
(Staff Switchboard)
(Church Info Center)
1333 S Kirkwood Rd
Saint Louis, MO 63122-7226 | Directions


Featured Publication

The Lutheran Witness

LCMS Communications

Interpreting the contemporary world from a Lutheran Christian perspective.
Visit TLW Online