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The History Of Birth Control Essay

990 words - 4 pages

Overpopulation has been a debatable issue since humans have begun to roam the earth. In the essay De Anima, Roman philosopher Tertullian speaks on the blessing of catastrophes that help curb overpopulation (Glaze III 2000). As a result of these "catastrophes", like infant death, birth control received little recognition. In ancient times death rates were high, especially during infancy and childhood. Large numbers of children were needed in order to ensure the survival of the human race. The 18th and 19th century brought technological and scientific advances that increased food supplies, helped control disease and made work easier. These advances took effect on death rates as they began to drop and more children lived to have children of their own (Birth 1991).Robert Thomas Malthus, an economist from Great Britain, was concerned with the earth's carrying capacity. He feared that the human potential to produce offspring far outweighed the earth's ability to accommodate them. According to his famous essay on the Principle of Population, an analysis of population growth statistics, he recommended the postponement of marriage and strict premarital abstinence as "moral restraints" against population growth (Malthus 1798). Many thought the views were unrealistic as solutions to the problem at hand. The search for more practical methods of contraception sparked the birth control movement.A variety of birth control methods have been used throughout history and across many cultures. Many methods of contraception, thought to be relatively new, are actually hundreds or thousands of years old. They are simply the advancing or further development of ideas that people who lived long ago came up with. Among them are abortion, spermicides, intrauterine devices, and condoms.Abortion has been used as a method of contraception since ancient times. It has also been a topic of debate. The ancient Hebrews had laws against abortion, but it was permissible when the mother's life was at risk. The early Christians also opposed abortion. However, the church debated for hundreds of years whether abortion might be okay before animation, when the fetus receives a soul. According to teachings animation occurred between 40 and 80 days after conception (Birth 1991). This is parallel with the age in which we live, an age where 2nd trimester abortions are a sensitive issue. From the 14th to the 19th century, permission for abortion before animation was granted only if it endangered the mother's life (Birth 1991). If the abortion took place for a less serious reason many Christian scholars condemned it, but it was not viewed as homicide.Pope Pius IX condemned abortion from the moment of conception, but some Catholic scholars continued to teach that abortions that saved the lives of the mothers were religiously permissible. In 1895, the Roman Catholic Church declared that abortion is not an option under any circumstances (Abortion 1999). Today, the Catholic Church continues to...

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