When the Duggar family was first introduced to television viewers in a one-hour TLC special, they had 14 kids and a small home in Arkansas. That special turned into 10 seasons of their reality show, 19 Kids and Counting, and as the title implies, the already-large family continued to grow while the cameras rolled. But while Duggar parents, Jim Bob and Michelle, have been open about their decision to leave their family planning up to God, their relationship to contraception is actually more complicated than you might expect. Do the Duggars believe in birth control? Jim Bob and Michelle's personal experience, coupled with their extremely conservative religious beliefs, seem to have had a big influence on their children — a number of whom are now parents themselves. But it's possible that not all of them agree with what they've been taught.
With so many kids between them, it's not at all shocking to hear that Jim Bob and Michelle chose to avoid using birth control (I mean, how else could you get up getting pregnant so many times?), and it's also not uncommon for couples with strict religious beliefs to eschew contraception. But what is surprising is that, early on in their marriage, Jim Bob and Michelle had actually planned to only have a few children, and they'd chosen to use the birth control pill as a result.
The couple has spoken publicly in the past about their experience, including in a blog post on their website written by Jim Bob in honor of his 32nd wedding anniversary to Michelle in July 2016. In the post, he explained that, Michelle had gone on the pill early in their marriage, and that they'd waited three years before having their first son, Josh. In a separate interview about their birth control views, Michelle said she went back on the pill after his birth, but an unexpected pregnancy changed their views on contraception in a major way. She explained,
I went back on the pill, and I ended up getting pregnant while the on the pill. We ended up losing that baby, and that was very difficult for us, because, here we are as parents, holding this one baby in our arms, enjoying being a mama and a daddy. And then realizing that, with our own lack of knowledge, [we'd allowed] one of our own babies to be destroyed.
In the same interview, Jim Bob went on to explain that the couple spoke to their doctor, who said that "sometimes the pill will allow you to get pregnant, but then it can cause a miscarriage." That's not a view that's supported by medical literature — according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there is "no credible research [that] supports the false statement that birth control causes miscarriages," nor is there research to suggest it can cause an abortion. But the doctor's words, coupled with the couple's interpretation of biblical scripture, affected them enough to make the decision against using birth control, and since then, they've remained more than happy to view every pregnancy as a blessing.
Although Jim Bob and Michelle have been open about their views on birth control, it's not as clear where their children stand on the issue. In the past, a number of the Duggar siblings have spoken out against abortion on social media, and even though using birth control doesn't cause abortions, the fact that Michelle and Jim Bob consider their miscarriage to be an example of them letting their baby be "destroyed" suggests it wouldn't exactly be a stretch to think that their children share that view.
Yet while Jim Bob and Michelle's beliefs seem entirely sincere, they're also incorrect: according to The National Institute of Child Health and Development at the National Institutes of Health, the majority of early miscarriages occur as no fault of the parents, and are usually caused "by a chromosomal abnormality in the fetus." Miscarriage is also incredibly common, occurring in an estimated 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies. But that's just the women who already knew they were pregnant — the NIH has said that "as many as half of all fertilized eggs may spontaneously abort" before the pregnancies were even identified.
But beliefs about miscarriage and abortion aside, it's also reasonable to assume that the Duggar children will likely follow in their parents' footsteps and avoid birth control. For one, almost all of the adult Duggar children who are married have announced pregnancies within months of their wedding days: Jill Duggar and her husband, Derek Dillard, announced that they were expecting only two months after their wedding day, according to E! News, while Jessa Duggar and her husband, Ben Seewald, announced their first pregnancy five months after getting married, according to People. In August, Joy Duggar and her husband, Austin Forsyth, announced their pregnancy almost exactly three months after they tied the knot in May, according to People, while Joe and Kendra Duggar announced their pregnancy earlier this month — also three months after getting married.
The only outlier? Jinger Duggar, who has yet to announce a pregnancy despite celebrating her first wedding anniversary to husband Jeremy Vuolo in November 2016. While the couple hasn't spoken about their plans to have (or not have) babies, it wouldn't be entirely surprising to think that Jinger may hold different opinions about birth control than her parents and siblings — especially since she's already shown she's not afraid to abandon the Duggar family rule dictating that girls should only wear skirts. Of course, the fact that Jinger isn't pregnant doesn't necessarily mean she's pro-birth control (and really, the fact that she isn't pregnant doesn't necessarily mean anything at all), but it does suggest that it's possible that not all the Duggars plan on having large families beginning soon after marriage.
Ultimately, any couple's decision to use or not use birth control is a personal one, and should really come down to whatever they feel is best for them. It's also totally reasonable to think that the Duggar siblings who have chosen to get pregnant quickly after marriage, or to have large families, may have done so simply because they themselves enjoyed growing up in such a large family. Either way, for now, it seems like most of the Duggars seem to be avoiding birth control — so while the Duggar family might already be a big one, chances are there will be many more members still to come.
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