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Why Natural Family Planning?

March 25, 2020

By Suzanne Pietropoli
Staff Writer

What is Natural Family Planning, and why does it matter? The U. S. Bishops answer both questions in their document, “Married Love and the Gift of Life.”

“Natural Family Planning,” they write, “is a general name for the methods of family planning that are based on a woman’s cycle. A man is fertile throughout his life, while a woman is fertile for only a few days each cycle during the childbearing years. A woman experiences clear, observable signs indicating when she is fertile and when she is infertile. Learning to observe and understand these signs is at the heart of education in natural family planning. When a couple decides to postpone pregnancy, NFP can be very effective. NFP can also be very helpful for couples who desire to have a child, because it identifies the time of ovulation. Natural methods of family planning involve fertility education that enables couples to cooperate with the body as God designed it.”

This cooperation with God’s design makes NFP unique among family planning methods.

As the Bishops make clear, “When couples use contraception, either physical or chemical, they suppress their fertility, asserting that they alone have ultimate control over this power to create a new human life. With NFP, spouses respect God’s design for life and love. They may choose to refrain from sexual union during the woman’s fertile time, doing nothing to destroy the love-giving or life-giving union that is present. NFP does not change the human body in any way, or upset its balance with potentially harmful drugs or devices.”

Instead, it empowers couples to live in harmony with their bodies, and with their fertility. The Bishops also note that NFP “leads couples to show greater attentiveness to and respect for each other.”

“By using contraceptives,” the Bishops conclude, “couples may think that they are avoiding problems, that they are exerting control over their lives. But the gift of being able to help create a new human being involves profound relationships. It affects our relationship with God, who created us complete with this powerful gift. It involves whether spouses will truly love and accept each other as they are, including their gift of fertility. Finally it involves the way spouses will spontaneously accept their child as a gift from God and as the fruit of their own marital love. Like all important relationships, it is not subject solely to our individual control. In the end, this gift is far richer and more rewarding than that.”

To learn more about Natural Family Planning, please contact the Diocesan NFP Office at (518)483-0459 or email us, apietropaoli@rcdony.org. NFP information may also be accessed at www.rcdony.org/nfp and at the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/nfp.

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