What if there were an app that would allow women to use natural family planning rather than contraceptives? Well, there is one. Recently, an app called Natural Cycles was created to help couples use a natural way for family planning. Instead of contraceptives, the creators of this app, a married couple, thought that there should be a safer, and more natural, way of contraceptives rather than trusting other methods that would help couples control “the number and spacing of their children”. One of the cons, of this app, is that it relies on science and algorithms. It would, therefore, seem a very decent way for married couples to determine when is the “right time” to have children; but at the same time, I wonder: shouldn’t God be the one to ultimately determine one’s conception?
Natural family planning has been known, and practiced, for many centuries. It is based on the woman’s menstrual cycle, as its monitoring helps predict when the chances of conception are at their highest, or lowest. There are no drugs, or scientific devices, involved in natural family planning, allowing nature to take its course.
While reading about this app, I began to think how this could help out married couples to determine when is the right time to start a family. However, immediately after, I realized that this is a man-made app that bases its facts, and results, on algorithms. With that being said, is it algorithms that should determine when we are born? Should it not be God? Or, perhaps, love?
To me, what remains interesting about this app is the fact that, in a way, it may lead to the rediscovery of natural family planning methods.
One of the most important figures who spoke on the use of natural family planning was St. Pope Paul VI, in his encyclical Humanae Vitae. Humanae Vitae was written precisely to make sure that no one forgets about the intrinsic, and immense, value of life, from the moment of conception. Reading the Humanae Vitae, I understood the reason why St. Pope Paul VI wrote on this matter. He wanted couples to understand that what happens during conception is not just between them: the creation of a new life involves husband, wife, and God. Even today, it is still God who will bring life, not the app.
“If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles which We have just explained.” Maybe this new app is following the spirit of Humane Vitae.
What we may ask ourselves, while using it, is: will we credit conception to the algorithms, and science, or to God?