I’m really sort of flummoxed by the new war on contraception, and specifically, birth control pills. Why now? The first b.c. pills came on the market in 1960, the year JFK announced his presidency, the Family Circus comic strip began, and Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini was the #1 hit for a week in that summer. In other words, it was a different time - such an utterly different time as to be only barely imaginable to me, born twenty years later. So why, if these pills have been on the market and accepted for 50+ years, do we have a new cadre of Republicans who want to make them disappear, or at least make them difficult to attain? How out of touch can you be? Younger voters, (gosh, after this birthday, I can hardly count myself in this group anymore) have grown up knowing nothing besides the fact that you can control when you get pregnant (barring infertility of course). Think for a second how revolutionary that is, in terms of the history of humankind. Young voters don’t know anything besides the fact that if you’re not an idiot, you can take a pill every day and be in control of something so life-altering - why would any of these people vote against contraception? We should all be celebrating this - it’s in everyone’s best interest, and the best interest of this country, that babies are born as choices people make when they are ready. I don’t understand the let’s-just-see-what-happens mentality. You have this important power, you have control, why cede that control? I think it’s wacky that conservatives are trying to shove b.c. pills under the carpet, like we’re all going to go back to a time where if you wanted to have sex, you had to have babies, whether you could provide for them or not. I’m guessing they think making b.c. pills difficult to attain will make people not have sex, because non-procreative sex is bad, but the point is, in the era before b.c. pills, people didn’t have less sex, they just had unplanned pregnancies. Now, parenthood is a choice. I find sometimes people of an older generation than mine never quite get their heads around this idea — that this is something within our control now. I actually think the animosity of pro-parent types against people who claim to be ‘child-free’ (i.e. those who have made a choice to not become parents) is actually a byproduct of this shift from children as natural consequence of being alive, to child-bearing/rearing as lifestyle choice. (Why some child-free people bear animosity towards parents seems more complicated to me, and less understandable). The other thing I wish people would understand about contraception is that the people who use it, are the same people who may within their fertile lifetimes, stop using it. In the black and white world of some conservatives, I think they believe there are two types of women: 1) single sluts who have lots of casual sex for fun and use birth control so they keep having slutty, fun sex without consequences, and 2) good, virtuous wives who hate sex but grit their teeth and have it once every 2.5 years to make a baby with their husbands. Has this dichotomy ever been true? Though the marriage rate has been falling for decades, the majority of heterosexuals in America still get married, and most married people do have children. This means that the same woman that has non-procreative sex using birth control, either outside of or within a marriage, during one part of her life, is the same person who may decide at a different time in her life, to stop using that birth control to get pregnant. Seeing these women as one in the same would break down this false dichotomy of slut/good wife. Also, don’t we almost universally agree that people marrying a bit later in life (i.e. not right out of high school, or at age 20, as used to be the norm), is a good thing for people, society, and future children? What do conservatives suppose we do then - stay celibate until six years out of college, when first-time marriage rates spike? For people who hate the notion of abortion, contraception is the great path away from that — I’ve sometimes wondered what I would do if I became accidentally pregnant. Just how pro-choice am I? Could I go through with an abortion? Luckily for me, I can take birth control pills reliably, responsibly, in conjunction with some other form of birth control and voila, I do not have to worry about having to make such a decision. Don’t these conservatives want fewer abortions?
I wish in the aftermath of Rush Limbaugh’s idiotic statements, that more people saw that as a ‘teachable moment’. If you missed all that flapp, Rush chided this female law student for her testimony on the cost of birth control pills, making the assumption that because she spent $300 on birth control pills, she must be having sex all the time. But birth control pills aren’t like condoms - you don’t buy one and take it right before sex to prevent a pregnancy. If this dolt in power and with money is thinking this, you can bet other people in this country are similarly misinformed about how birth control pills work. Instead of starting a campaign to pressure companies to stop advertising on Rush’s show, a campaign about how birth control pills work might have been a good idea too.
I hate that sex is taught now like heroin usage: it’s horrible, do not have anything to do with it, ever. It’s goofy to take that approach, because though it’s pretty good advice to not even once try heroin, sex isn’t something you won’t ever do. It becomes a part of adult life for most people.
I also wish men were more involved in standing up for birth control pills. Family planning is a joint decision. I’ve never been in a relationship where it’s not been talked about and agreed on. Unfortunately, in the recent flap about birth control pill access, in my personal life I’ve heard outrage mainly from other women I know. I wish more men would stick up and add their voices to the conversation to say, you know, my wife is on birth control and deserves to be if she wants to be and is not some slut because of it. Where’s the male outrage? Where’s the sense of urgency about protecting b.c. access, from all the men who benefit from it too?
I should end this by saying I’ve been a patient at Planned Parenthood since my early twenties. I go there for my Pap/pelvic exam every year. I went initially because I was buying my own health insurance and it’s expensive to go anywhere when you’re self-funding your medical insurance, but more importantly, because a physician’s assistant there, Dr. Jennifer Biermann, is one of the most exceptional doctors I’ve run across. So many doctors won’t listen to you, have some kid of agenda, and/or try to whisk you out of the room as soon as possible, but that’s never been my experience with her. I go to Planned Parenthood because they practice good medicine and I’m impressed by their professionalism. Birth control pills are the only prescription drugs I take, and I like PP because they have more up-to-date about them (general practitioners don’t always have that kind of information).