Precinct 333

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Women Use Less Birth Control

It goes against the norms of our contraceptive culture, but the number of women not using birth control has increased over the last decade.

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, a trend that has experts puzzled -- and alarmed about a potential rise in unintended pregnancies.

Buried in the government's latest in-depth analysis of contraceptive use was the finding that the number of women who had sex in the previous three months but did not use birth control rose from 5.2 percent in 1995 to 7.4 percent in 2002. That means that as many as 11 percent of all women are at risk of unintended pregnancy at some point during their childbearing years (ages 15 to 44).

The article is couched in alarmist tones, noting that women who have unintended pregnancies are more likely to be unprepared psychologically or emotionally for parenthood. There is also much speculation about why these women are not using birth control.

Physicians, statisticians and advocates who specialize in reproductive health had several theories for the rise in unprotected sex. They pointed to possible factors such as gaps in sex education, the cost of birth control, declining insurance coverage, fears of possible side effects of contraceptives and personal attitudes about childbearing.

It is possible, said Paul Blumenthal, that many more women are trying to conceive and thus have stopped using contraception. But the Johns Hopkins University professor said it is more likely that more women have found the cost of birth control burdensome.

Because the number of uninsured has increased, these women might be on the short end of that stick," he said. Since 2001, the number of uninsured Americans has risen by 4 million.

Jeffrey Jensen, director of the Women's Health Research Unit at Oregon Health and Science University, said he regularly encounters patients who have trouble affording birth control, even if their private insurance covers it.

"It is absolutely unconscionable that women have a co-pay of $20 or $25 [a month] for contraceptives and men are getting off scot-free," Jensen said. Drug companies "have cut way back" on free samples and many women turn to less effective types of birth control because of cost, he said, "running a greater risk of pregnancy as a result."

Two things leap out at me. The first is the absolute discounting of the possibility that these women are exercising their “right to reproductive choice” in a manner that leads them to CHOOSE to get pregnant. Such a thing is unimaginable to supporters of contraceptive culture and the sacrament of abortion. The second is the immediate assumption that women – presented as strong, intelligent, independent individuals capable of making rational informed choices by abortion proponents when they argue in favor of “a woman’s right to choose” – are depicted as ignorant, frightened, powerless victims when they don’t use birth control.

And I won’t even get into the statement that “men are getting off scot-free.” Aside from the lack of choice given to men in the abortion decision, the financial burden imposed by the child-support laws of the US, and the legal imposition of “my body, my choice” feminism designed to demean men as nothing but irresponsible sperm donors, why should men be expected to pay for the reproductive choices made by women? The whole point of feminism over the last half century was to liberate women from paternalistic men – but apparently not to the point that women might support themselves, or pay for their own choices.

But the one thing is clear -- to the researchers, the notion that a woman might voluntarily choose to conceive is. . . inconceivable.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.