Document Type




Format of Original

10 p.; 23 cm

Publication Date



Catholic Medical Association

Source Publication

The Linacre Quarterly

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1179/2050854915Y.0000000007; Shelves: BJ 57 .L5x 2015 v. 82, Memorial Periodicals


The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of contraception, abortion, and natural family planning (NFP) on divorce rates of US women of reproductive age. The variables of importance of religion and frequency of church attendance were also included in the analysis. The study involved 5,530 reproductive age women in the (2006–2010) National Survey of Family Growth who indicate that they were ever married. Among the women who ever used NFP only 9.6 percent were currently divorced compared with the 14.4 percent who were currently divorced among the women who never used NFP (x2 = 5.34, P < 0.21). Odds ratio analysis indicated that ever having an abortion, sterilization, and/or methods of contraception increased the likelihood of divorce – up to two times. Frequency of church attendance decreased the risk of divorce. Although there is less divorce among NFP users the reason might be due to their religiosity.

Lay summary: Providers of natural family planning (NFP) frequently mention that couples who practice NFP have fewer divorces compared to couples who use contraception. Evidence for this comment is weak. This study utilized a large data set of 5,530 reproductive age women to determine the influence that contraception, sterilization, abortion, and NFP has on divorce rates. Among the women participants who ever used NFP only 9.6 percent were currently divorced compared with the 14.4 percent who used methods of contraception, sterilization or abortion as a family planning method. Frequency of church attendance also reduced the likelihood of divorce.


Accepted version. The Linacre Quarterly, Vol. 82, No. 3 (2015): 273-282. DOI. © Catholic Medical Association 2015. Used with permission.

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