Amish are against contraception, though limited use may occur
Amish take the “go forth and multiply” dictate to heart. Children are seen as a blessing and large families valued by Amish. Traditionally, Amish reject all forms of birth control. In practice, however, some may employ natural means such as the rhythm method, and even artificial means in some cases.
Changing Amish attitudes to birth control?
A slight drop in Amish family sizes has been seen as a possible indication of increased use of birth control. Amish access to medical care and the opinions of medical professionals may influence a couple’s attitude to birth control as well. Some medical professionals may recommend use of some birth control, though Amish are typically reluctant to do so.
However, there have been indications of a softening stance in some quarters of Amish society towards birth control. Donald Kraybill notes that some Amish may use natural and artificial means of birth control, and that older women may undergo sterilization. Kraybill describes birth control as “minimal” but sees its increased use in certain cases as a “modernizing trend—a shift from fate to choice” (Riddle footnotes p 350).
In An Amish Paradox, Hurst and McConnell cite Amish in Holmes County, Ohio, with somewhat surprising attitudes towards birth control: ‘An Old Order woman commented, “Artificial birth control is wrong if used for selfish reasons, but it’s okay for married couples if used for health or emotional reasons, but only barrier methods.” A New Order father agreed: “A lot of Amish use birth control even though we have a conscience against it. But most don’t use the pill because it’s seen as taking away life.”’ (Paradox, Hurst and McConnell, p100).
A survey taken by the Amish Paradox authors, of Amish in the Holmes County community, indicates that over three-fourths of respondents “strongly disagree” or “disagree” with birth control. Surprisingly, however, 13% “somewhat agree with” use of birth control.
Amish belief remains strongly against birth control
Regardless of what may be indications of softening attitudes among some Amish, traditional Amish teaching is strongly against the use of birth control in regulating family size. Amish continue to see children as a gift from God, though practices may be changing in some segments of Amish society as a result of liberalizing influences.
For further information, see:
The Riddle of Amish Culture, Donald B. Kraybill
An Amish Paradox: Diversity and Change in the World’s Largest Amish Community, Charles E. Hurst and David L. McConnell
Amish Online Encyclopedia: How many children do Amish have?
Looking for more good reading on the Amish? Check out our list of best Amish books.