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contraceptionThe use of contraceptives – the deliberate interference with the natural process of fertility in order to prevent conception -  is widespread across the global community. Hormonal contraceptives are considered convenient and effective methods of spacing children – or even not having children at all. Meanwhile, barrier methods of contraception are hailed as the answer to international problems such as AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Together, both methods allow individuals to exert full control over their reproductive lives. However, the effects of widespread contraceptive usage are perhaps not as clear as they first seem. Hormonal contraceptives come with their own health risks – some of which will remain unknown. They also raise a host of medical questions concerning their mechanism of action (how the contraceptive actually works) and whether or not contraceptives have an abortifacient effect (a drug which allows conception to occur yet renders the woman’s womb hostile to implantation – effectively, working as an early abortion). This is particularly problematic for Judeo-Christian or Islamic tradition where life begins at conception. Yet, the ethical questions arising from contraception are by no means confined to questions of health. The increased usage of contraception has contributed to a new understanding of the role of sexual intercourse, the family and the notion of responsible parenthood – all of which bear intimately on the functioning of society as a whole.