Birth control is the practice of preventing birth from taking place. There are two ways this can be done – by preventing conception from happening or by destroying the foetus at some stage before it is born. Buddhism teaches that life begins at or shortly after conception and thus considers abortion to be a type of killing (Majjhima Nikaya 1. 265). To prevent conception from happening, either by using condoms, contraceptive pills, cervical devices or spermacides does not involve killing and is thus morally neutral. The ancient Indians practised douching to prevent contraception and also made condoms out of animals’ intestines.
- Buddhism and Bioethics, Damien Keown, 1995.