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Is there an obligation to use Viagra if it would enable a couple to have children which they otherwise couldn't?

This question originated from Should Catholic christians be obligated to use in vitro fertilisation? If not, why not?. There the question included Viagra and In-vitro fertilisation, however there seems to be a difference in how the Catholic Church approaches those two practices.

In response to the first two comments by @Flimzy and @ElberichSchneider, I am providing more detail to hopefully improve the question:

How can the church obligate someone to use a specific drug? And which church committee would be responsible for evaluating all new drugs to know if they ought to be mandated on their membership?

Viagra is merely an example of different similar drugs (already on the market or not even in development yet). How far does "be fruitful and multiply" go? Isn't - if one didn't want children in their marriage - the non-use of contraception a step into the same direction in a similar fashion as using lifestyle drugs to overcome erectile dysfunction, i.e. if I am fertile (in the sense of healthy sperms), but can't consummate due to physiological problems and could with Viagra, would I be obligated to use it?

Adding to what Flimzy said, I think that you should cite at least one reliable study which proves a positive correlation between the use of 'viagra' and the probabilty of having children. If you don't have one, the question is NARQ.

For the sake of the example could we replace Viagra with a theoretical drug with a correlation coefficient r(druguse,conception)~1?

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How can the church obligate someone to use a specific drug? And which church committee would be responsible for evaluating all new drugs to know if they ought to be mandated on their membership? –  Flimzy Oct 28 '13 at 18:31
    
Adding to what Flimzy said, I think that you should cite at least one reliable study which proves a positive correlation between the use of 'viagra' and the probabilty of having children. If you don't have one, the question is NARQ. –  Elberich Schneider Oct 28 '13 at 19:25
    
@ElberichSchneider, I thought it would make sense in connection with the cited question I'll change the question. –  Sebastian Langer Oct 28 '13 at 22:09
    
Thanks to @AndrewLeach's answer I was able to understand, what is wrong with the question! It is difficult gain new knowledge from downvotes without comments - apart from "Something is not quite right." –  Sebastian Langer Oct 29 '13 at 9:58

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The issue with this question (and the earlier one) is that they are based on the false premise that Catholics are required to have children.

There is no obligation to have children. What there is is an obligation not to deliberately prevent the conception of children (because of the sanctity of life outlawing abortion, and the provision of the conjugal act for procreation). Married Catholics who follow the teachings of the Church are likely to have lots of children; most couples will not want to abstain from sex and children are the natural consequence.

But children follow from sex: sex is a gift, not an obligation. The ability to have children is a gift: it is a gift not given to some couples as part of the human condition, and they have been called to bear their Cross. However, medical science has allowed that burden to be lightened or removed.

The Church does not abhor all advances in medical science, as demonstrated by its attitude to IVF shown by the CDF:

These interventions are not to be rejected on the grounds that they are artificial. As such, they bear witness to the possibilities of the art of medicine. But they must be given a moral evaluation in reference to the dignity of the human person, who is called to realize his vocation from God to the gift of love and the gift of life.

IVF is ultimately condemned not because it is artificial, but because it separates the conjugal act from the conception of life.

The use of drugs and surgical interventions to enable sex "bear witness to the art of medicine". They do not separate conception from sex — quite the opposite.

Thus they will not be condemned. But the Church cannot oblige its members to use external methods to counter what God has caused them to be.

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Just to counter a potential objection: although non-consummation is grounds for annulment, it doesn't make annulment automatic (or marriages would be annulled as soon as they were contracted). Thus there is no obligation to consummate a marriage and sex remains a gift to be taken up as circumstances allow. –  Andrew Leach Oct 29 '13 at 8:33
    
A technicality, but I believe Catholics are permitted to 'deliberately prevent the conception of children' through natural means, e.g. through withdrawal or use of fertility cycles. But +1. –  DJClayworth Oct 29 '13 at 14:08
    
@DJClayworth Yes: neither of those methods is entirely successful! –  Andrew Leach Oct 29 '13 at 14:58

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