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50 years on, Vatican ban on birth control means women are still being denied contraception

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50 years on, Vatican ban on birth control means women are st


Wednesday, 25th July 2018

Fifty years after its publication on 25th July 1968, women are still being denied contraception under Humanae Vitae, the Vatican encyclical that bans birth control - even though the vast majority of Catholics in Ireland do not accept the Church’s teaching.

A new survey by Catholics for Choice and the Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) shows that 91 per cent of Catholics in Ireland disagree with the Church's ban on contraception. Only 6 per cent agree with it.

Yet a "code of ethics" for Catholic hospitals, published by the Irish Catholic Bishops, rules out the provision of contraception in all circumstances.

IFPA Chief Executive Niall Behan said: "It is utterly unacceptable that women would be denied basic and essential healthcare in order to protect an ethos that only tiny number of Catholics subscribe to."

He continued: "It’s telling that the bishops' document classes the use of emergency contraception as an 'abortion'. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of how emergency contraception works. It's more evidence that religious opinion has no place in healthcare, and certainly not in publicly-funded hospitals. Healthcare decisions are between patients and their doctors."

The ongoing damage caused by Humanae Vitae extends to schools. In an Irish education system dominated by schools with a Catholic ethos, Humanae Vitae means many pupils are prevented from getting information about contraception. The IFPA says it sees every day the harm caused to women and girls by inadequate sexuality education. 

Mr Behan said: "Sixty per cent of post-primary students are in Catholic-controlled schools, but even pupils in some secular and non-denominational schools are getting sexuality education from external agencies with a Catholic ethos."

He added: "When we fail to provide comprehensive sexuality education in schools, we fail our young people. Misinforming pupils about contraception or pretending it doesn’t exist leaves pupils unprepared and puts them at risk."

The IFPA backs legislation that would require fact-based, objective sexuality education for all students.

"Every pupil in the country needs to get comprehensive, evidence-based relationships and sexuality education," said Mr Behan. "It should be age-appropriate and continue throughout the pupil's school career. We don't give pupils half a day of instruction in history or geography and say they've learned enough. But that happens too often when it comes to sexuality education. Young people need better."

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