Joseph McCabe (1867-1955) was one of the most prolific authors of all time. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic, worked on Latin documents, and made himself very well-informed about Christianity, but turned against it. But he was extremely naive about Jews; bear this in mind.

Click for Detailed notes on McCabe - scroll down for selections from A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (1948).

Here's the full A Rationalist Encyclopaedia (about 1.3 MBytes; Word format; includes notes on some of its limits)

Birth Control

J. McCabe, Rationalists Encyclopaedia

Birth Control. Disregarding the fantastic suggestions of the Rev. T. R. Malthus (Essay on the Principles of Population, 1798) that marriage ought to be postponed, and the crude practices of ancient civilizations - we have an Egyptian contraceptive prescription of 1850 b.c. - birth-control was first perceived by the Rationalist leaders of the first quarter of the last century to be a necessary complement of the improvements which led to a rapid growth of population. Francis Place, Richard Carlile, and J. S. Mill were the most prominent figures in the movement in the first half of the last century, with Bradlaugh, Mrs. Besant (as long as she was a Secularist), and Dr. Drysdale, taking up the lead. In America R. D. Owen and Dr. C. Knowlton faced the obloquy inspired by the clergy. It is estimated by most authorities that owing to medical progress in lowering the death-rate, especially of infants, a population that does not practise birth control would double in about a third of a century. Some recent investigators claim that a natural decrease of the birth-rate is shown in northern and western Europe, but the official statistics (Statesman's Year Book) prove that the birth-rate is still high above the death-rate, and the population increases more rapidly than ever. The insincerity of the opposition in Italy and Germany is now fully revealed, and the only other large opposition, that of the Church, is not more sincere. There is nothing in Catholic Moral Theology, as taught before the present controversy arose, against restriction. The sole aim of the prohibition (under pain of hell) to Catholic parents is to maintain the Catholic birth-rate while that of non-Catholics shrinks. But no law of the Church is so extensively defied by Catholic women, and in 1930 a body of Catholics in America launched, "with ecclesiastical approbation" a book, Rhythm of Sterility and Fertility in Women, telling Catholic married folk how to restrict the number of children by confining intercourse to what is said to be the woman's sterile period of each month. The profit was very high: the loss to the Church was slight, since the great majority of physiologists regard the period recommended for sterility as precisely that of the maximum fertility

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