Although, with more than a billion members, the Catholic Church has immense influence on bioethical practice, its positions are rejected by many bioethical theorists. None is more disputed, even ridiculed, than its condemnation of contraception. However, this stand does have thoughtful defenders. In Catholic circles, one of the best known is Janet Smith, an American classical scholar turned bioethicist and moral theologian. She is a popular lecturer, serves on Vatican committees, and has appeared on Fox Morning News, CNN International, CNN Newsroom, Al Jazeera and EWTN.
Dr Smith has a knack for making for making the Catholic stand on contraception plausible. Most people believe that it has something to do with the abortifacient effects of “the pill”, but that is essentially a secondary consideration.
The Jesuit magazine America recently interviewed her about her work. Here are some excerpts.
In your own words, what is the Catholic view of human sexuality?
I think it can best be found in John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.” Our sexuality has a spousal meaning; it manifests that we are meant to be gifts to each other and that from that gift new life is to come. It discloses the most profound way that we image our Creator: we are meant to be lovers and givers of life. Both literally and spiritually.
You once recorded a popular audio talk called “Contraception: Why Not.” In summary form, what do you believe is the best argument against contraception?
That talk depends a surprising amount on consequentialist arguments—the argument that contraception has had terrible consequences, for women, for relationships, for children, for the culture.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.