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If the pope can change his mind on condoms, why not emergency contraceptives?

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 21 December 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c7073
  1. Sara Carrillo de Albornoz, MSc student in public health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  1. carrillo.sara{at}

In November Pope Benedict XVI declared the use of condoms acceptable in certain cases.1 In comments quoted in the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano he said, “There can be single cases of justified use of condoms—for example, when a prostitute uses a condom—and this can be the first step towards moralisation, the first act of responsibility to develop awareness that not everything is allowed and that we cannot do everything we want. However, this is not the true and appropriate way to fight HIV infection.”

This is hardly a revolutionary stand on the use of contraceptives and on the fight against HIV, as Vatican spokesmen have hurriedly assured us, but we can only hope that it opens the way to wider discussion, adjustment of the Catholic church to the 21st century, and a change of stance on birth control. The time has come for the church to learn from science and take a step forward in improving women’s lives. Women should …

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