The Angelic Doctor and the Birth Control Pill
Why Aquinas Was Kept out of Humanae Vitae

Anthony Zimmerman
Fidelity, November, 1989
Reproduced with Permission

Coadjutor Bishop John J. Myers of Peoria, Illinois, a defender of Humanae Vitae, suggests that there is a "somewhat inadequate formulation of the magisterial teaching" in that encyclical. "The Catholic clergy as a group," he said, "have never known how to defend this doctrine well. They didn't know in the '30s and they don't know now" (Myers, Our Sunday Visitor, September 11, 1988).

If we clergy do not know how to defend this doctrine well, (as Bishop Myers seems to be saying) we can apply the ancient formula: "Credo ut intelligam." Freely translated: "Believe first, then try to understand that truth." Since we chauffeur the race to its destination in heaven we must listen carefully to briefings about road conditions. If there is an accident, the judge will want to know whether the instructions were wrong, or whether we didn't follow them, and so assess the guilt. "To have knowledge, you must first have reverence for the Lord" (Proverbs 1:7). Assisted by faith and reverence, we can seek a better understanding about the law of God against contraception.

Perhaps valid reasons existed in 1968 which would have rendered the use of the central argument of St. Thomas Aquinas against contraception ill-advised; at any rate, his argument is not well developed in Humanae Vitae. As St. Thomas wrote in the Summa Theologica, the law against contraception is very necessary for the welfare of the human race. In order to be consistent the Church cannot teach otherwise. Humanae Vitae is just the most recent expression of a doctrine that has always been taught.

The Church teaches that contraception is in itself always gravely evil. Similarly excluded is every action that, either in anticipation of the conjugal act or in its accomplishment or in the development of its natural consequences, would have as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible (Humanae Vitae, No. 14).

One cannot use the principle of the "lesser evil" to justify acts which are made intentionally infertile, continues Humanae Vitae. Nor can we correctly invoke the "principle of totality" (mistakenly used in the majority opinion of the Papal Commission) because "it is an error to think that a conjugal act which is deliberately made infertile and so is intrinsically wrong could be made right by a fertile conjugal life considered as a whole" (Humanae Vitae 14). A footnote refers to paragraphs 54 to 56 of Casti Connubii, in which Pope Pius XI had given the same teaching on December 31, 1930:

But no reason, however grave, maybe put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good.... Those who in exercising it [the conjugal act] deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.

As St. Augustine notes, "Intercourse even with one's legitimate wife is unlawful and wicked where the conception of the offspring is prevented. Onan, the son of Juda, did this and the Lord killed him for it" (De coniug. adult., lib. II, 12; 38.8-10).

The Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of grave sin.

Humanae Vitae also refers to the "Address of Pope Pius XII to Midwives," October 29,1951, in which he quotes from Casti Connubii and then adds: "This prescription holds good today just as much as it did yesterday. It will hold tomorrow and always for it is not a mere precept of human right but the expression of a natural and divine law. "Pope John Paul II, deftly handling the tiller of the ship of the Church during the storm, states time and again that the teaching of the Church cannot be changed because it is the law of God:

By describing the contraceptive act as intrinsically illicit, Paul VImeant to teach that the moral norm is such that it does not admit exceptions. No personal or social circumstances could ever, can now, or will ever, render such as act lawful in itself ... These moral norms are simply the demand - from which no historical circumstance can dispense - of the Holiness of God which is shared in the concrete, no longer in the abstract with the individual human person(To Theologians, at the Lateran University 12 November 1988).

The doctrine in Humanae Vitae is consistent with the perennial doctrine of the Church on this subject, as we can see from the above. Pope Pius XI, 50 years ago, called to witness the statement of St. Augustine (d. 430) made 1500 years before that. When a doctrine is taught so explicitly, with such evident intent, repeatedly, and authoritatively, the Church cannot be in error. If the Church were to err in a similar case, her credibility would be shattered. Christ's statement to Peter would also have to be altered to read: "What you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven - but only sometimes" (cf. Mt 17:19). Christ, our Primate, is an administrator of infinite ability; a good administrator does not allow a credibility gap to occur, and so destroy public trust. The credibility of the Church, then, is anchored to Humanae Vitae,every bit as much as it is linked to the Gospel. It is the duty of the Church, then, to teach this doctrine as one indispensable part of the message of the Gospel.

According to St. Thomas, the common welfare prohibits contraception. Faith sometimes gives us access to truths which we cannot understand, such as the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist and of the Blessed Trinity. Faith also gives us access to the truth about the evil of contraception, but that truth ought not to escape our understanding as do the great mysteries.

St. Thomas made the welfare of the human race pivotal for his rejection of contraception. Yet we do not find his name in the text of Humanae Vitae, except in footnote 9, which really does not allow him to speak. Why did the Vatican exclude the pivotal argument of Aquinas from Humanae Vitae? I once had an experience at the Vatican which suggests to me that he was purposefully excluded. At a meeting for editing the book for the 1980 Synod of Bishops entitled Natural Family Planning: Nature's Way - God's Way, I suggested that we include, in the theological section, something about the evil consequences which would follow if contraception were really licit. This was instantly brushed aside as "consequentialist theology" by a Vatican official. So quickly did he reject it that it made me surmise: "Ah, he must have gone through that before." That is, there must have been a discussion in Vatican circles whether to base the argument against contraception on the evil effects which would follow from it, and the Vatican must have decided to proceed with caution. We will return to this point after giving St. Thomas a fair hearing.

The argument of St. Thomas Aquinas is that licit use of sexual pleasure has strings attached: God does not allow humans to perform the sex act unless they pay the price He attaches to it. That is, they must be married to each other, and must do nothing to prevent offspring as a result of the act. The logic is similar to that of charging for tickets to enter the movie theater. If no one paid, the theaters would have to go out of business. Similarly, those who make use of the sex act must pay the price God attaches to its use. God charges the price because this is very necessary for the overall welfare of the human race; unless God charges the price, humans would go out of business. Thomas did not develop his argument as well as he might have done had the pill been on the market in his day, so we have to fill in here and there. His basics are as follows.

Now just as the preservation of the bodily nature of one individual is a true good, so, too, is the preservation of the nature of the human species a very great good. And just as the use of food is directed to the preservation of life in the individual, so is the use of venereal acts directed to the preservation of the whole human race (Summa Theologica II,153,2).

Food is for the nourishment of individuals, whereas sex is for the preservation of the human race, says Thomas. if you look sharply you see that he does not deny that the act also has value for individual couples; he includes the good of conjugal sex among the goods of matrimony (cf , e.g., Summa Theologica, Suppl. 49,2). What he states here is that sex may not be used in a manner which negates its ordination toward the preservation of the race. He continues:

The more necessary a thing is the more it behooves one to observe the order of reason in its regard; wherefore the more sinful it becomes if the order of reason be forsaken. Now the use of venereal acts, as stated in the foregoing Article, is most necessary for the common good, namely the preservation of the human race. Wherefore there is the greatest necessity for observing the order of reason in this matter: so that if anything be done in this connection against the dictate of reason's ordering, it will be a sin (ST II, II, 153,3).

To do full justice to this argument of Thomas, we must broaden the ambit of his terminology to include the existence of family life as part of the package which includes "preservation of the race." Aquinas's thinking can be summarized in the following syllogism:

A grave obligation must prohibit acts
which damage the welfare of the race greatly;
but if incorrect venereal acts were licit,
this would damage the welfare of the race greatly;
therefore a grave obligation prohibits
incorrect venereal acts.

We might say that St. Thomas makes illicit sex comparable with the use of counterfeit coinage. Sex performed incorrectly, against reason, is wrong in itself. That is one side of the coin. How wrong? Gravely wrong, says St. Thomas, looking now at the other side of the counterfeit coin where its currency value is printed. "It is most necessary for the common good" to forbid contraception. It is grave matter, just as counterfeit money becomes a grave matter if it does grave harm to the public good. St. Thomas calls contraception and other ways of procuring sexual pleasure which preclude conception "sins against nature": "In this way, as hindering the begetting of children, there is the vice against nature, which attaches to every venereal act from which generation cannot follow" (ST II 154, 1). Contraception, we know, falls into this category. It is a use of sex"from which generation cannot follow" by design and intention.

St. Thomas continues, explaining the two sides of the malice of contraception - its irrationality in itself, and its offense against the common welfare of humanity. We quote at length to show how he lists contraception, along with masturbation, bestiality, and homosexuality, as having this twofold aspect of evil:

Wherever there occurs a special kind of deformity whereby the venereal act is rendered unbecoming, there is a determinate species of lust. This may occur in two ways: First through being contrary to right reason, and this is common to all lustful vices; secondly, because in addition, it is contrary to the natural order of the venereal act as becoming to the human race: and this is called the unnatural vice. This may happen in several ways. First by procuring pollution, without any copulation for the sake of venereal pleasure; this pertains to the sin of uncleanness which some call effeminacy. Secondly, by copulation with a thing or undue species, and this is called beastiality. Thirdly, by copulation with an undue sex male with male, or female with female, as the Apostle states (Rom 1.27); and this is called the vice of sodomy. Fourthly, by not observing the natural manner of copulation, either as to undue means, or as to other monstrous and bestial manners of copulation.... The lustful man intends not human generation but venereal pleasures. It is possible to have this without those acts from which human generation follows; and it is that which is sought in the unnatural vice (ST II II,154,11).

In the logic of St. Thomas, contraception is included in the fourth species he names: undue copulation. Because he states that the act is "contrary to reason" he does not employ "consequentialist" dialectic in this first step of the argument. Modern "consequentialist" theologians do not look for "correct use" and "incorrect use," because they do not judge acts by their intrinsic nature. Contrary to Aquinas, they do not say that acts in themselves are moral or immoral. Instead, they weigh foreseen advantages against disadvantages of the possible courses to be taken. If they judge that foreseen consequences on the one side outweigh the alternative consequences on the other side, they draw conclusions about obligations from this consideration. It is a pseudo-moral theology, as is quickly becoming clear. Aquinas, however, uses absolute standards, not scales weighing pluses and minuses. Contraception is in itself against reason and, therefore, intrinsically evil, he says.

Is his second argument consequentialist because he seems to weigh the goods of the human race as prevalent over possible goods for the couple? Not really. Aquinas makes God weigh the consequences. God uses His own scales, which are absolute, rock-ribbed eternal truths. Humans, then, have no more weighing to do; their task is to accept the eternal law, which is divine wisdom as directive of human events. No, St. Thomas is not at all using a consequentialist argument in the way some theologians muddy the springs of moral theology today.

Is there a positivistic element in the argument of Thomas, perhaps? Does he make God prefer the welfare of the race over the wishes of a couple just because God prefers it that way? Such is not the case. God is good - absolutely good. His wishes are, therefore, absolutes. Sometimes couples must trade off certain inconveniences in order to participate in this absolute goodness of God. Couples become holy when they do so. What is good for God, then, and what is good for the race, is also good for the couple.

What is the common welfare of the race which is obtained by the prohibition against contraception? Is it survival of the race, namely, the prevention of its extinction? Is it the institution of marriage and the family? Is it monogamic fidelity? Is it reverence for life already conceived? Is it recognition of the equal dignity of women and men? It is all of these things and more. The law against contraception protects the welfare of families and of the race.

Humanae Vitaeprophetically points to the consequences of widespread use of artificial birth control, without however making such consequences central to its teaching, as St. Thomas does. Humanae Vitaementions how contraception would open an easy road to conjugal infidelity and lower moral stands all around. Young people would be especially vulnerable to the enticement of loose sexual morals. The man may lose respect for the woman, abuse her physical and psychological equilibrium, and use her as an object for selfish enjoyment rather than making her a beloved companion.

Another evil consequence foreseen in Humanae Vitae is that a disregard of the ban against contraception may invite public authorities to impose methods of contraception on the citizens which they judge to be most efficacious. Conjugal intimacy would thus be placed at the service of governments. All this, concludes HV indicates that we must "recognize absolute limits to the possibility of man's dominion over his own body and its functions" (Humanae Vitae 17).

The moral eco-system in which family life and the welfare of the race survive and thrive would become so altered, if contraception were not intrinsically evil, that that system could no longer support humanity as we know it.

Do we need proof? Humanae Vitae warned only 20 years ago about possible adverse effects if contraception becomes widespread. The pill came on the market less that 30 years ago and with it advertisement for contraception and government sponsorship of the same. During that short period of time, the following consequences adverse to the welfare of the race increased with a vengeance: divorce skyrocketed out of control, with the result that many question whether marriage is any longer possible; the line which formerly distinguished marriage from consensual unions had become blurred due to new policies of no-fault divorce; temporary unions without marriage threaten to make marriage marginal to our social mainstream. Pre-marital sex among teenagers, with and without abortion, is touted by many as a normal way of life. We see women claim that they are abused by men; a rampaging women's movement poisons the social atmosphere with anti-male sentiments, rejects the perennial values of women, and positions women against men in trench warfare. We see a government imposing a one- child family policy, enforced with IUDs, sterilization, and back-up abortion for the "delinquent."

In addition we see a Europe which is depopulating itself, while foreign replacements quickly re-fill the vacuum. Most "developed" nations have, during the past 30 years, lost the momentum of demographic health and are plunging downward on an accelerating depopulation spiral. With contraception comes the greying of nations, then rapid aging which points toward eventual extinction. To speed the process, the sickle of euthanasia reaps the aged prematurely. All this happened during the several decades since the world went on its illicit contraception binge, and it is only the beginning. Contraception is still intrinsically evil, but all this happened after some said it was not. What would happen, then, if contraception had been declared licit, at least in some cases?

Let us suppose that the illicit practice had been declared licit by the Church, teaching authoritatively in the name of God, seated in the chair of Moses and of Christ. The majority of the papal commission actually voted mistakenly that contraception is not "intrinsically evil"; it is licit, they voted, in the context of married life viewed in its totality (see 30 Days, July/August 1988, p. 65). This rejected opinion would permit contraception to couples who sooner or later produce their quota of children to the race.

If the Church had accepted that majority opinion, then we must also state that contraception is sometimes good. If good, then we can licitly promote that good. Doctors can licitly help couples to contracept successfully. Pharmaceutical companies can licitly manufacture contraceptives; governments can licitly collect taxes from the citizens to promote better contraception; school-based clinics should help children to learn the proper techniques while they are a captive audience and easily teachable; pastors should distinguish between "bad use" of contraception and "good use" of the same. Sterilization should then also be permitted after couples have supplied their "quota" of children. Governments could licitly promote sterilization of people with hereditary defects and diseases - people infected with leprosy, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, the mentally retarded, the poor. We know that all this is being done to some extent already, but if contraception were not intrinsically evil, then the Church could approve all this, even make it her apostolate. We should become missionaries of "good contraception." I wretch at the prospect.

What about marriage? Plato proposed - partially with tongue in cheek - that private families be abolished. Wives, children, and real estate ought to be common property, he said. Moreover,

In order to keep the health of the population at a high level, the state should select only superior stock for reproduction, and their services should be employed only during the prime of life. Select women might be licensed to reproduce during the ages of 20 to 40, men during the ages of 25 to 55. The licensed stock should be assembled on major festivals for public hymeneals at common meeting places. Children born seven to ten months later would all be termed brothers and sisters, and would never know their parents. Officers would pick up the infants and bring them to the pen or fold where the nurses would care for them. Children of inferior parental stock, and those showing some deformity, ought to be put away. Similarly, all offspring of illicit unions should be discarded, to prevent unlicensed couples from "raising upa bastard to the state, uncertified and unconsecrated." It would be better to abort unlicensed fetuses, but if carried to viability, they shall not be cared for (see more in Zimmerman, The Catholic Viewpoint on Overpopulation, 1961, p. 13,from Plato, Republic, V).

Would this apocalyptic scenario sketched by Plato be avoided if contraception were permitted only to married couples, who in the course of their total married life contribute their quota of children for the preservation of the race? In such a case contraception would be assumed as being not intrinsically evil. The sexual drive, however, would supposedly support marriage and family formation just as now, because licit contraceptive intercourse would be limited to married couples who eventually produce a just quota of children sufficient to help conserve the race. Supposedly, this is the case, but is it true?

The Church did not accept the argument first and foremost because contraception is intrinsically evil, and so can never be done licitly. For the sake of argument, let us see how things might work out if contraception were not intrinsically evil, and were really permitted under restricted conditions.

Some couples, we know, may licitly use natural family planning to avoid the conception of any children during their entire lives; Pope Pius XII declared that this may apply when serious contrary indications of a medical, eugenic, economic, or social nature exist in their case (cf. Pius XII, "Address to Midwives," Oct. 29, 1951, No. 36). Logically, the papal commission would permit such couples to use contraceptives instead of natural family planning during the entire course of their married lives. People, we can foresee, would become experts in finding serious indications against childbearing. Would there then be enough children to enable nations to thrive, and humanity to survive?

Let us press the inner logic of the rejected papal commission's opinion a bit more to its deviant conclusions. If the primary condition for licit contraception is that its users must supply equitable quota of children to society - their principle of totality - then in-vitro-cum-surrogate-child-production has utilitarian advantages over marriage; an updated Plato would agree. Contraceptors could then pay their dues to society without taking the detour of marriage, by buying in vitro's, hiring surrogates, and having the children reared at public institutions which are financed with their tax contributions. To satisfy Plato, a state genetic supervisor should collect only quality genetic material - semen and ova - impeccably screened for genetic purity, from high quality stock. He could deliver these materials to government certified fertilizing and brooder complexes, and from there to paid surrogates - any quality surrogates - whose lifestyles should be supervised. After delivery, the official should collect the offspring and deposit them at scientifically operated child raising complexes. Ordinary couples would be considered as below standard amateurs, being inexperienced educators, such as beginner parents are today. Such is the course of updated Platonic logic if contraception is not intrinsically evil.

Thus we see that the institution of marriage and the family would not only be compromised, but would be deprived of any firm foundation, if contraception were not intrinsically evil. The law against contraception is manifestly God's law. We humans are one racial team walking together on a stretched aerial cable. The irremovable law against contraception is the unbreakable cable supporting us. If people fall off the cable - even a majority - they fall, but the race continues to walk on its way safely. But if the papal commission had cut the cable, then the race would drop to the hard floor below.

Humanae Vitae reflects the wisdom of God's eternal law by declaring that contraception is intrinsically evil. St. Thomas also states that it is intrinsically evil, but adds the law is most necessary for the preservation of the common good. Pope Paul VI knew the Thomistic argument, we must assume, when he promulgated Humanae Vitae. Then why didn't he use it?

Pope Pius XII had used the Thomistic argument in the following passage of his Address to Midwives, October 29, 1951, stating that use of the marriage right obligates user couples to contribute to the good of the race:

Upon couples who perform the act peculiar to their state, nature and the Creator impose the function of helping the conservation of the human race. The characteristic activity which gives their state its value is the bonum prolis.The individual and society, the people and the state, the Church itself depend for their existence in the order established by God on fruitful marriage. Therefore, to embrace the married state, continuously to make use of the faculty proper to it and lawful in it alone, and, on the other hand, to withdraw always and deliberately with no serious reason from its primary obligation, would be a sin against the very meaning of conjugal life (No. 34).

Pius XII here gives the race a "claim" upon couples who marry and use the act continuously, with user couples this "claim" exists objectively as an obligation of "prestation." The expressions are legal and technical terms. If that argument would stand alone, without being supported by the other argument that contraception is itself intrinsically evil, then it could be in support of the so-called principle of totality; it could be interpreted to mean that couples who satisfy the "claim" of the race, by making their due "prestation" of offspring, are otherwise free to contracept. Pius XIl, however, did not use this argument alone. He had already stated previously, in paragraph 24 of the same address, the teaching of Pius XI that contraception is always intrinsically evil. Pius XII, like St. Thomas, used the two arguments together: first of all, contraception is intrinsically evil; second, it is also an injustice against humanity.

Pope John Paul Il goes on to explain why contraception is always intrinsically evil, but he says nothing directly about claims of the race upon the couple; instead, he makes God the "claimant" rather than the race, and he makes the couple directly responsible to God, without mentioning an obligation of prestation to the race:

At the origin of every human person there is a creative act of God. No man comes into existence by chance; he is always the object of God's creative love. From this fundamental truth of faith and reason it follows that the procreative capacity inscribed in human sexuality, is - in its deepest truth - a cooperation with God's creative power.

It also follows that men and women are not the arbiter's, are not the masters of this capacity, called as they are, in it and through it, to be participants in God's creative decision. When, therefore, through contraception, married couples remove from the exercise of their conjugal sexuality its potential procreative capacity, they claim a power which belongs solely to God: the power to decide, in a final analysis, the coming into existence of a human person. They assume the qualification not of being cooperators in God's creative power, but the ultimate depositories of the source of human life.

In this perspective, contraception is to he judged, objectively, so profoundly unlawful as never to be, for any reason, justified. To think or to say the contrary is equal to maintaining that in human life situations may arise in which it is lawful not to recognize God as God (Seminar on Responsible Parenthood, September 17, 1983).

In other words, when couples act sexually, they have an obligation toward God to not interfere in case God decides to create a human being in conjunction with their act. Only God has the right to interfere with God's decision if they perform the conjugal act. It is a profound thought. I think it is not different from the Thomistic argument; St. Thomas makes the couple responsible to the race which God creates; Pope John Paul II makes the couple responsible to God who creates the race. Pope John Paul II also pioneered profound thoughts about why contraception is such a wicked lie that couples can never tell this lie to each other without trivializing their relationship: in the conjugal union, he says, the "language of the body" must speak the truth, a truth which is first of all ontological, structured into the act, and then also subjective and psychological. To speak the truth in this case is a norm of the natural law (General Audience, July 11, 1984). At Caracas, Venezuela, he stated that the norm binds gravely, "contraception and sterilization for contraceptive purposes are always gravely illicit" (January 26,1985).

Why HV did not use Thomas

It is now time to ask why the argument of St. Thomas was not used more explicitly in Humanae Vitae and then suggest that the time for its use today may be opportune. First of all, consequentialist theology was still on its upward swing in 1968. Perhaps the Pope judged it to be prudent, at that time, to avoid even a slight appearance of basing principles on the need to avoid adverse consequences.

Another reason suggests itself it was not yet politically expedient in 1968 to use Thomistic argument. The Vatican, being well informed, keeps a finger on the pulse of the world and is well advised by seasoned and highly-accomplished statesmen. They know that even if an argument is correct in itself, the condition of the times may make its use politically inexpedient. Maybe the Vatican felt in 1968 that people would not believe an argument from consequences - until, that is, the adverse effects of contraception became evident from experience.

The pill was new when the encyclical was written; the media still gave glowing reports. The so-called overpopulation problem was gospel for the media, accepted as science and truth; even some in the Vatican were wondering about it. The argument of St. Thomas about the need to preserve the race might have backfired. In the atmosphere of 1968 it would surely have drawn enormous attention and scorn from the media. It is fair to assume, then, that the Vatican withdrew this "red herring" from its repertoire of arguments.

Perhaps the people who helped with the drafts of the encyclical omitted the argument of St. Thomas because they perceived in the general public a bias against so-called "biologism." [N.B. This section about Fr. Martelet is amended in May 2000, differing from the original article published in 1989.]

Fr. Gustav Martelet, S.J., after reminding us that Pope Paul VI states in Humanae Vitae that the reasons which the Church alleges "may not have immediately the same depth as the intuitions which guide her" goes on to envision a public outcry against the encyclical for"an obstinate referring to this bare [human] nature." As you may know, the encyclical had two chief compilations, the first and fundamental one in Italian, the second in French. Whether Fr. Martelet helped to write the French draft is not known to this writer. But if he did, then the public outcry which he feared would be raised against the Encyclical if it featured the natural law argument connected with biology, may have been instrumental in keeping St. Thomas out of Humanae Vitae. At any rate, when we were editing the book Natural Family Planning for the 1980 Synod of Bishops, (posted elsewhere on this home page) his contribution, which contains the fear of public reaction against the natural law argument even as it is in Humanae Vitae now, generated scruples in one or the other of our staff . Their scruples were overruled, however, and Martelet's insightful contribution was duly included in the book. [End of addition, May 2000.]

Twenty years have passed since the writing of the encyclical. Now the pill is in trouble; the overpopulation scare is waning, and biases against use of natural law argument are losing their force. (The ten commandments are shot through with biology. "Thou shalt not kill, nor steal, nor commit adultery.") I propose that more and more use be made of the Thomistic argument, which states forthrightly that contraception is against reason - is intrinsically evil - and that the ban against contraception protects the common welfare of the race. Aquinas is correct in bringing down the evil of contraception with a double barrel blast from his theological shotgun: he hits it with one shot saying it is intrinsically evil; he then hits it a second, very powerful shot, saying that licit contraception would destroy family life and the race. If we develop that argument well, perhaps our clergy and people will gain heart and will defend Humanae Vitae with verve and conviction.