Time to come up with another J-name! TLC’s Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar, stars of the reality TV show “19 Kids & Counting,” just announced they’re expecting their 20th child, due this spring.
The 45-year-old mom said she’s taking extra precautions after experiencing a complicated 19th pregnancy, when Josie was born premature at 25 weeks. People magazine reported:
Michelle, who is under the care of a high-risk pregnancy doctor, says she is being cautious, eating a lot of protein and green vegetables and abstaining from caffeine.
Approximately 10 to 15 percent of women have preeclampsia – Michelle had it with her second pregnancy – and the condition can strike randomly. Women who have had it previously are at higher risk, however.
Jim Bob agrees: “If we had lived by fear after Michelle had preeclampsia after her second delivery, we would have missed out on all our wonderful blessings,” he says. “So many of her pregnancies have gone extremely well.”
The Duggars are conservative Christians whose fundamental Biblical beliefs led them to reject birth control, a stance the Catholic Church shares. The Duggars “decided to allow God to determine the number of children” they would have, an open-to-life philosophy that resembles the attitude of many Catholics who who use natural family planning.
My understanding is that the Duggars adhere to Quiverfull principles on family planning, explained like this, according to Wikipedia (emphasis mine):
Quiverfull adherents maintain that God “opens and closes the womb” of a woman on a case-by-case basis, and that attempts to regulate fertility are a subjugation of divine power.
Thus, the defining practice of a Quiverfull married couple is not to use any form of birth control and to maintain continual “openness to children,” to the possibility of conception, during routine sexual intercourse irrespective of timing of the month during the ovulation cycle.
This is considered by Quiverfull adherents to be a principal, if not the primary, aspect of their Christian calling in submission to the lordship of Christ.
By contrast, NFP-using Catholics practice responsible parenthood, which means they are also open to life and trust God’s will but may at times choose to abstain from sex (based on fertility signs) when they have discerned they are not called to welcome another child at the time.
Pope Paul VI defines responsible parenthood in his 1968 encyclical Humane Vitae:
In a word, the exercise of responsible parenthood requires that husband and wife, keeping a right order of priorities, recognize their own duties toward God, themselves, their families and human society.
It is the married couple themselves who must in the last analysis arrive at these judgments before God.
NFP is far more open to life and trusting of God than any other family-planning practice or religious tenet, but compared with the Quiverfull approach, it gives a bit more control to humans by allowing them to at times avoid pregnancy.
CatholicMatchers, what are your impressions of NFP vs. Quiverfull? Have I got it right? Are you preparing to one day practice NFP? Do you agree with secular critics who say Michelle Duggar shouldn’t be having any more babies at her age and given the difficulty of her last pregnancy? What are your thoughts on pregnancy in your 40s?