A minority of Catholic women in our survey have used natural family planning (defined in our question as “a method of postponing pregnancy without the use of artificial contraception”). One in five women who had ever been married or were living with a partner said they had practiced N.F.P. with a partner.
Natural family planning is a method of observing the signs of fertility, so couples can decide whether or not to have sex at the times a woman is most likely to be able to conceive a child. The Catechism of the Catholic Church answers the question “When is it moral to regulate births?” with a variety of factors to observe: Is it a decision free from external pressure; is it driven by serious reasons, not selfishness; is it sought using moral (non-contraceptive) means? (No. 497).
We asked the women who used N.F.P. about what factors were most important to them when they decided how to space births. Financial concerns were some of the most commonly cited: 38 percent of women said it was very important to them. The next most frequently cited reasons were not wanting more children (34 percent) and a woman’s relationship with her husband (33 percent).
This article is one of four short explorations of the data found in the America Survey, commissioned by America Media and conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. Read the other three here: