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What Do Religions Say About Birth Control and Family Planning?


Updated June 21, 2014

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What Do Religions Say About Birth Control and Family Planning?


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In Buddhism, there is no established doctrine about contraception. Traditional Buddhist teaching favors fertility over birth control, so some are reluctant to tamper with the natural development of life. A Buddhist may accept all contraceptive methods but with different degrees of hesitation. The worst of all is abortion or ‘killing a human to be.’

In Buddhism, wholesomeness is the main criterion for moral judgment. A notion related to this is the Buddhism beliefs about the duty of the parent. Buddhism preaches the importance of humans to take care of their children, so they can grow up with a good quality of life. Buddhist teachings, therefore, support appropriate family planning when people feel that it would be too much of a burden on themselves or their environment to have more children. Birth control allows couples to plan to have a certain number of children and prevent an excessive number of pregnancies. Buddhists believe that family planning should be allowed and that a good government should provide those services.

Birth control pills and condoms are more acceptable methods, with more Buddhists preferring condoms. According to Mechai Viravaidya, a politician and activist in Thailand, "the Buddhist scriptures say that many births cause suffering, so Buddhism is not against family planning. And we even ended up with monks sprinkling holy water on pills and condoms for the sanctity of the family before shipments went out into the villages." He urges Buddhists to “not be embarrassed by a condom. It's just from a rubber tree, like a tennis ball. If you're embarrassed by a condom, you must be more embarrassed by the tennis ball. There's more rubber in it. You could use it as a balloon, as a tourniquet for snake bites and deep cuts and use the ring of the condom as a hair band. What a wonderful product."

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