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Can the Catholic Church agree to condom use by HIV-discordant couples?
In the paper with this title, Luc Bovens argues that the Catholic Church ought to allow HIV-discordant couples to use condoms (see page 743). According to Catholic moral theology, intercourse is only permissible if it respects the natural purposes of sex, ie, the so-called “procreative” and “unitive” functions of sex. Condoms clearly thwart the procreative functions of sex and are therefore seen as morally illicit by the Church.
However, Bovens argues that there are special features of the situation faced by HIV-discordant couples that entail that their condom use is morally licit under the doctrine of double effect (DDE) as accepted by the Church. If a HIV-discordant couple pursues the unitive function of sex without using condoms, they run a significant risk that the unaffected partner will become infected. Condom use can diminish that risk significantly, and, if that is what the couple intends, they can invoke the DDE.
The main strand of Bovens’ argument …
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