1930 Vatican approves rhythm method for birth control


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The Vatican. Richard McNight.

Until the 1930s, the Catholic Church was not alone in its opposition to contraceptives. In the Christian tradition, birth control had long been associated with promiscuity and adultery and resolutely condemned. However, after the Anglican Church passed a resolution in favor of birth control at its 1930 Lambeth Conference, other Protestant denominations began to relax their prohibitions as well. Nevertheless, the Catholic Church held fast to its opposition.

The Vatican’s stand against contraception was centuries old. For much of that time, however, birth control had remained a dormant issue. Since most birth control consisted of folk remedies and homemade cervical caps, there was little cause for the Church to respond. It was the mass production and availability of rubber condoms and diaphragms in the 1920s and 1930s, made possible by the 1839 invention of vulcanized rubber, which eventually forced the Church to take a public position on specific contraceptives.

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