Letter: Catholic church coercion that denies choice over the size of the family

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The Independent Online
Sir: Nicholas Coote's letter (30 August) is typical of the fog that the Vatican and its apologists seek to cast on the issues of population growth and reproductive choice.

No one is suggesting that poverty in developing countries should not be tackled as energetically as possible, nor that the problems caused by the consumption patterns of the developed world are not of comparable importance. Neither of these factors, however, negates the need to tackle population growth at the same time. It is not 'despairingly passive' to try to improve reproductive health and to enable people to make an informed choice about the size and spacing of their families, nor is it so to try to improve the low status of women, which is a major factor contributing to rapid population growth.

Nicholas Coote says that the Roman Catholic Church supports 'natural' family planning. He does not mention the church's implacable opposition to all other forms of family planning, whether for the use of Catholics or of non-Catholics. Large numbers of Catholics in the developed countries reject this teaching of the church, and prefer modern contraceptives for their own use. The position of the UN and of the population agencies is that everyone should be able to make an informed choice for themselves among all methods, without either coercion to limit their families or coercion to use only one particular method. Since the church appears to be doing its best to limit the available choice, it is by no means clear that 'the church rejects any coercive element in family planning'.

Yours faithfully,



Population Concern

London, W1

5 September