Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic by John T. Noonan Jr.

By John T. Noonan Jr.

Initially released in 1965, birth control obtained unanimous acclaim from all quarters because the first thorough, scholarly, goal research of Catholic doctrine on contraception. greater than ever this topic is of acute obstacle to an international dealing with critical inhabitants difficulties, and the writer has written an enormous new appendix analyzing the improvement of and debates over the doctrine long ago 20 years.

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Yet, in this polygamous society, love is neither exclusive nor more important than procreation. At Laban's insistence Jacob takes the elder sister Lia before he takes Rachel, and later, when • See Lucien Legrand, The Biblical Doctrine of Virginity (New York, 1963), p. 29. org/terms THE OLD TESTAMENT 33 Rachel is barren, she gives her slave girl to Jacob so that she may vicariously beget children through her slave (Gn 29:22-28, Gn 30: 1-5). A later story tells of David and his several wives, Micol, who "loved him" (1 K 18:20, 28); Abigail whose enterprising betrayal of her nrst husband impressed him (1 K 25:23-42); and Bethsabee, whose beauty moved him to adultery and murder (2 K 11:2-17).

Some physicians may have taken an ethical stand against any use of contraceptives; others probably followed the ideal of not prescribing contraceptive5 in aid of criminal or frivolous purposes. Yet the sense of responsibility in Soranos, who was strongly influenced by Stoicism, may not have been typical. Other doctors must have known no restraints. In the Christian era of the Empire, there seems to have been no new inhibition to the dissemination of contraceptive techniques. 18 Oribasios was suspect in religion, a friend of that emperor Julian to whom his excoreligionists gave the epithet "the Apostate"; his writing on contraception could be treated as typical only of the pagans who remained.

The differing standard arguably reflects Roman favoritism rather than higher provincial fertility; by modern standards even the provincials are not expected to raise big families to win the exemption. 26 In the second century serious plagues, such as that of union. 23 23 Gordon Williams, "Some Aspects of Roman Marriage Ceremonies and Ideals," Journal of Roman Studies 48 (1958), 16,28. 24 C. Plinius Caecilius Secundus, Epistularum libri decem, ed. R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford, 1963). 25 References to the Corpus ;uris civilis are as follows: Institutiones, ed.

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