Birth Control in Latin America

September 4, 1968

Report Outline
Catholic Church and Family Planning
Growth of Family Planning Facilities
U. S. Support of Birth Control Effort
Special Focus

Catholic Church and Family Planning

Impact of Pope' Encyclical in Latin America

The papal encyclical of July 29 reaffirming the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to artificial methods of contraception dealt a blow to the progress of foreign-aided and other family planning programs in Latin America. Birth control is a delicate subject in most underdeveloped countries, but it is nowhere so delicate as in those where the Roman Catholic Church is dominant. However, family limitation facilities of a sort unthinkable a few years ago were being established and were gaining acceptance in numerous Latin American countries before Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical. The movement was receiving substantial aid from the United States and other sources.

Recognition of the immensity of the population growth problem, together with widespread expectation that the church would soften its strictures against the birth control pill and the I.U.D. (intra-uterine device), gave encouragement to the development that had taken place. When the Pope finally spoke on the issue, six years after it had been raised for reconsideration by his predecessor, John XXIII, his words sent a shock wave through the international network of public and private agencies in the family planning movement. And the future of United States and other economic aid to Latin America, insofar as it has been predicated on the expectation of some effort to bring population growth under control, was thrown into question.

How much of a setback the family limitation movement in the region will suffer as a result of the encyclical cannot yet be assessed. The Division of Population Studies of the Colombia Association of Medical Faculties, itself a product of the family planning tide and a recipient of foundation assistance from the United States, is developing plans at this time to do research in depth on the effects of the encyclical.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Birth Control
Jun. 24, 2005  Birth-Control Debate
Jul. 29, 1994  Birth Control Choices
May 14, 1993  Preventing Teen Pregnancy
Nov. 11, 1988  Birth Control: the Choices Are Limited
Jun. 07, 1972  Contraceptives and Society
Sep. 04, 1968  Birth Control in Latin America
Nov. 09, 1966  Oral Contraceptives
Oct. 15, 1958  Status of Birth Control
Population Control
Regional Political Affairs: Latin America and the Caribbean
Religion and Politics