Monday, August 4, 2008

Ode to Birth Control

Several weeks ago, I wrote briefly about my own abortion, in an effort to encourage open discussion of the topic. This week, I’d like to focus on preventing pregnancy which is, of course, a major component of reducing the need for abortion. Especially in light of recent shenanigans on the part of Bush Co., I thought it important to discuss the wonders of modern birth control.

Once again, I don’t put my experience out there as representative of anyone but myself. However, I will say that the one time in my life I got pregnant was the one time in my life I wasn’t consistently using birth control. Ironically enough, it was that one unplanned pregnancy that sparked my belief in, and heart-felt devotion to, birth control. The fact that I have since become a devout user of birth control and have not experienced another unplanned pregnancy speaks volumes; to me, anyway.

As a believer in the right to pleasure (so long as the pursuit of pleasure doesn’t infringe on another’s right to safety and bodily autonomy) I am a strong advocate of sex for pleasure. It’s wonderful and amazing that two people can literally join each other and create a brand-new, third person. But there are so many other benefits and potential outcomes of sex that I’m incapable of looking at it from a “procreation only” stand point. And I don’t hesitate to assume that most people engage in sex for reasons other than procreation, more often than not. Actually, I don’t have to assume anything. Several studies have shown that procreation is pretty close to the bottom of the list of reasons why people have sex.

Enter birth control. What an amazing concept, what an amazing human endeavor modern birth control is! It allows heterosexuals to explore parts of themselves that might be inaccessible if every penetrative encounter was wrapped up in the fear of pregnancy. It can remove a large component of fear and anxiety from sexual encounters. It can give a sense of freedom and security. It has helped lower the maternal mortality rate by allowing women to time and space their pregnancies. Women are no longer at the mercy of their biology. Effective, easy to use birth control has enabled women to more effectively enter public spheres such as business, politics, sports and the like.

Birth control isn’t (or at least shouldn’t be) soley the concern of women. I believe that men have just as much right and responsibility to prevent pregnancy as women do. Obviously there are biological and societal factors that can make it less of a concern for men. But that doesn’t mean it should be a non-issue for them. I strongly encourage everyone to take a look at the website This site has a lot of great information on methods of male birth control that are in development.

What this all boils down to are the basic facts that humans have a right to sex for pleasure, comfort, expressions of love or lust and just plain fun. Women deserve the right to manage their reproductive health in a way that allows them to participate in society to the fullest degree. Both women and men deserve the right to prevent pregnancies they’re not ready for. And effective, accessible birth control makes all of that possible!

Next week I’ll be posting a companion piece to this post – Giving Thanks for Joyful Quality Sex! I’ll expand on the idea of “the right to pleasure” and take a look at meaningful consent.

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