Monday, January 03, 2005

Fewer Women Using Birth Control

The above link is to a Washington Post article titled "More Women Opting Against Birth Control, Study Finds." It begins like this:

"At a time when the medical community has been heartened by a decline in risky
sexual behavior by teenagers, a different problem has crept up: More adult women
are forgoing birth control..."

Umm, why is that a problem? Isn't that one of those personal choice things? I thought we were supposed to be in favor of people choosing to do their own thing, be their own person, etc. Could it be that the people who think grown women choosing to forgo contraception is a problem only want women to choose what they--the supposed experts--want them to choose?

Basically they find grown women choosing not to use contraception a problem for two reasons: those women might have a pregnancy they didn't intend, and the "wrong" women might be having more babies. Admittedly, the latter is not stated explicitly and if I am being uncharitable in assuming its underlying presence in some of the concerns stated, then I ask pardon. As to the first, why has our society come to believe that we should plan every detail of our lives? That it is our right to control every single thing that happens to us, even life and death? I am not unaware of the complete upending of your life that an unexpected pregnancy can cause (hardly any woman can be oblivious to that), but is it really such a tragedy to become pregnant when you hadn't planned on it? Must everything happen on schedule? Is there no room for messiness and the unexpected in our lives? Are we really so devoted to efficiency and orderliness now?

There are a number of peculiar things in this article and it touches on a lot of topics that could be discussed (such as whether the government should fund contraception or, for that matter, births), but I'll confine myself to commenting on a paragraph near the end.

"In some cases, women and recent generations of physicians have been scared off
from certain types of birth control or simply not trained in products that
disappeared from the market."

Huh? If the products aren't being made anymore, you can't use them anyway, so whether you've been scared off them or trained in their use is beside the point.

" Of the women using birth control in 1995, 7 percent reported using an
intrauterine device, or IUD. That figure fell to 2 percent in 2002, a drop
Trussell attributed to "the legacy" of the Dalkon Shield IUD, which was
off the market in 1974 after causing infections that killed at least
18 women."

The Dalkon Shield fiasco may explain why only 7 percent of women were using an IUD in 1995, but I can't see how it had anything to do with a drop to 2% in 2002. All the bad publicity over the Dalkon shield was back in the 70s; it made many people scared of all IUDs, and so there was a big drop in use. But by the early to mid-eighties the talk and lawsuits had died down and, while you'd sometimes come upon a "everybody knows IUDS are dangerous" attitude if you mentioned them, the subject was pretty much dead. There were still IUDS on the market and a few women still used them. Docters were still free to recommend them to their patients. I do not think that the specter of the Dalkon Shield suddenly rose from the grave after 1995 and caused even more people not to use them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I would have been in the camp that was appalled by the birth control thing. Life experience has altered my paradigms. First of all, it shouldn't be called birth control. Only God can truly control birth itself. We mortals can only make attempts to bend the laws of nature to our will. Contraception is a better term, because we try to prevent conception - the operative word being try! I have 4 children; the first two were planned to the month of their birth, and the other two were complete surprises. I have to say that before I got pregnant with my third child, one of my worst fears was getting pregnant when I hadn't planned. I sure didn't thing we could afford more kids! But both of these two children have been amazing blessings to our family, and we can't imagine life without them. I honestly believe they were meant to be here - despite my "plans".
Many people, some of whom were "family" were openly contemptuous of us having them, especially our son, who is now a year old. While I believe people should be responsible and conscious about their reproductive habits, I also believe that once a woman is pregnant, her community should focus on being supportive and thus welcoming the child into the world as safely and lovingly as possible. The child is a blessing no matter what the circumstances are, and circumstances can change a lot by the time the baby is born. Wedlock, money, property, and prestige do not guarantee a loving or healthy home. How many of us were planned? I for one am happy to be here, and I'm probably done having babies - I'm 43. But my husband and I do occasionally (OK, rarely) get to "do it" when our 20 and 17 year-olds are otherwise occupied and both little ones are asleep. Women my age are supposed to have diminished fertility, but I don't think that's true in my case, and my husband's sperm count is probably off the charts because of the rarity of our encounters. Our insurance "plan" won't pay for a vasectomy or tubal ligation, so we still use the method that "failed" last time. Our plan is to be careful, but roll with the punches. We aren't woried though. We have plenty of love to go around.