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Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, First Edition Hardcover – December 1, 1965

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Editorial Reviews


A magisterially documented history of church teaching on birth control [which] suggests that there are good reasons why the traditional stand can change. (Time)

A book whose importance is difficult to exaggerate... [Noonan] has created an intellectual watershed... The inherent brilliance of the book and its dramatic timing make it as truly exciting as a book can be. (Harper's)

A superb contribution... [Noonan] presents all the relevant data with objectivity, restraint, and understanding. (Commonweal) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

John T. Noonan, Jr., is Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 571 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press; Enlarged ed edition (December 1, 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674168518
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674168510
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,383,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. Young on July 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
Every catholic man or woman needs to read this book. No, every Christian who holds the historical Christian faith. Noonan carefully studies the history of contraception without arriving at any facile conclusions. It makes one ponder (indeed, I am not yet done thinking about what the Church's teaching demands...)
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Format: Paperback
This book historically proves that the Catholic Faith on the serious sinfulness of contraception is apostolic and thus immutable. From the fathers of the church to the doctors of the church each and every one of them oppose contraception as seriously sinful. Both St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas condemned contraception as contrary to the laws of nature and nature's God since it intentionally frustrates the procreative good of sexual intercourse. Only the Manichean heretics and others like them who hated matrimony, procreation, the human body, and in general material creation supported the use of contraception. Noonan also documents the history of contraception. It did not begin with the birth control pill as some erroneously think. There are many methods of contraception including the most primitive use of coitus interruptus. The apostolic tradition, which is the ultimate rule of Christian faith along with holy scripture, is reflected in the Catechism of the Council of Trent which condemns contraception and abortion. The fathers of the Church recognized the intrinsic link between contraception and abortion, and did not make a big fuss over the distinction between the two since they did not have a definitive affirmation on the beginning of human life at conception. Same as the church whose magisterial teaching in "On Chaste Marriage" by Pope Pius XI is that every contraceptive act is intrinsically evil and that every intentional killing of the result of human procreation is intrinsically evil(notice this does not imply any position on the beginning of human life; whose beginning at conception is a scientific fact of embryology not a doctrine of the Catholic faith).St. Thomas Aquinas held the same position as the magiserium of the Church despite denying that human life begins at conception.Read more ›
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