Women’s battle for equal contraception rights, one pregnancy at a time
Scientifically speaking, men can impregnate more than 365 women in a year. However, women can only get pregnant once- so why is male contraception free and more accessible than female contraception?
As a feminist and Intervero's first female writer, I would like to use my podium to discuss an issue that is very important to me and that I have fought for and discussed for numerous years.
First off, to understand the importance of free and accessible female contraception, it is crucial to comprehend the various uses. Shockingly enough, women do NOT only use contraception to quench their thirst for sexual intercourse and avoid the potential consequences. As a matter of fact, research from the Guttmacher Institute states that more than half of the contraceptive pill users (58%) use it for reasons other than pregnancy prevention.
Women also use contraception to regulate period discharges, control cramps, and prevent acne breakouts. What’s ironic is that more than 90% of the people voting on and debating this issue in the federal legislature are men. Women’s rights to contraception are withheld by men.
A perfect example of this would be Senate Health Care Bill proposed by the Senate in June 2017. This bill would have made it harder for women to access important health benefits such as birth control and maternity coverage. The 13 male senators who drafted the bill attempted to defund Planned Parenthood and drastically withdraw funds from Medicaid.
Thankfully, the late Senator McCain cast the decisive no. However, the bill got very close to passing the Senate which would have brought chaos to millions of women. The message I am trying to convey is that men should not hold all the power over women’s healthcare.
As Barack Obama said: “It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else.”
The programme that was at risk actually pays for half of the births in America.
A survey also found that one in three low-income women use family planning clinics to obtain birth control. To add oil to the fire, President Trump, just like most Republicans, is openly against birth control and has already rolled back the contraceptive coverage mandate present within the Affordable Care Act
Nevertheless, by limiting the access to birth control for women, these senators are creating a chain of unwanted pregnancies that will not be terminated. Teenage girls and/or rape victims will then be forced to carry a child that they do not want. Pregnancies can also have very adverse effects on a woman unfit to carry a child. In some cases, pregnancies are a direct threat to a woman’s well-being.
“Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth”, says the World Health Organisation. In many developing countries, poverty, malnutrition, and a lack of sanitation and education contribute to serious health consequences for women and their families experiencing an unintended pregnancy.
Moreover, not all women are fit or capable of getting an abortion, and in many developing countries, abortions are unsafe and dangerous for the woman. Abortions also have social and psychological consequences. Women may experience anxiety and shame when seeking pregnancy termination, especially in developing and conservative countries. There exists controversies regarding abortions- some say it is sinful and should be illegal as it is ‘murder’. Religious countries even go further and emphasize that pregnancy termination will be followed by misfortune as a punishment.
As I stated previously, the quality and variety of contraception in developing countries is very poor. About 220 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using modern birth control methods. The birth control present has prevented deaths caused by complications by 40%, and could prevent an added 30% if the methods were up-to-date. That roughly means that contemporary birth control would save 70% of women with unwanted pregnancies.
In addition to this, elongating the gaps between pregnancies holds many health advantages; it would improve women’s delivery outcome and the survival of their children. So, contrary to what some might believe, denying women their access to contraception is murder, and not the other way around.
Additionally, access to reliable contraception can lead to socio-economic advantages. In 2013, the Guttmacher Institute concluded that “access to birth control significantly increases a woman’s earning power and narrows the gender pay gap.”
After numerous interviews, the Institute also found that “ Unplanned births are tied to increased conflict and decreased satisfaction in relationships and with elevated odds that a relationship will fail. They are also connected with depression, anxiety and lower reported levels of happiness. They are also connected with depression, anxiety and lower reported levels of happiness ”
Finally, birth control increases and facilitates greater economic growth because of fewer dependent children, more women will be able to participate in the workforce; there will also be less use of scarce resources
Obviously I’m not the first woman to fight for contraception. There have been great women such as Margaret Sanger, Simone Veil, Denise Oliver-Velez to name a few but I do believe that we have a long way to go before we reach full contraception equality.
In conclusion, it is important to understand the benefits of contraception for everyone.Let’s give our women the choice to decide what goes on in their bodies.