Posted by: Allyson | January 22, 2009

Blog for Choice, 2009

The theme of this year’s Blog for Choice Day is “What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?”

I’ve been working with the Lilith Fund for nearly four months now, and my experiences have cemented my opinions about choice and what I hope the new administration will do.

In the past four months, I have talked to women who:

  1. Used to be on the Pill, but quit taking it because they could not afford it
  2. Believed you could only get pregnant when you were ovulating, and therefore could just abstain during the ovulation days calculated based on a normal menstrual cycle (and some of these women think that this is only one day a month, exactly in the middle of her menstrual cycle)
  3. Had a condom break but didn’t know how to go about getting emergency contraception (it being affordable wasn’t an issue to most of them – they simply did not know how to go about obtaining it)
  4. Only used condoms because it was the only birth control they could afford
  5. Considered douching an effective form of birth control
  6. Women who knew very little about birth control in general (how to get it, what it costs, how safe each one is, etc.)

I’m not saying that women have gotten pregnant for other reasons. I have talked to women who were raped, talked to women who didn’t attempt to use birth control at all, talked to women who were on the Pill or had a NuvaRing or an IUD but got pregnant anyway, and women who have had planned pregnancies but needed to abort for medical reasons. But the overwhelming majority of women I talk to are those who either could not afford anything but a condom, or who had woefully inadequate sex ed.

So my hopes for the new administration are twofold:

  1. Make all forms of contraception financially feasible for all women. That means condoms, pills, diaphragms, rings, and IUDs. Heck, if my IUD hadn’t been covered by my insurance policy, I might not have been able to afford it, and I’m in a much better financial situation than the vast majority of the women I speak to each week. Women are going to face unwanted pregnancies if they can’t afford proper birth control. Whatever a woman wants to use in order to control her fertility should be available to her.
  2. Stop funding abstinence-only sex ed programs. They are not doing anybody any good. Start funding comprehensive sex ed programs. Talk about birth control. Talk about how it’s important to use condoms even if you’re on the Pill or have an IUD, because hormonal contraception does not prevent STDs. Teach women how to access emergency contraception if they need it. I truly believe that more than anything else, good education will reduce unwanted pregnancies.

 

Crossposted at This is What a Feminist Blogs Like

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Responses

  1. Hi Earlgreyroobos!

    I’m very interested in the feminist implications of the IUD, vs other forms of contraception, as I’ve just had one fitted and it got me thinking. Having an IUD imposes pain and the risk of medical complications and infertility on women. It is extremely convenient for a male partner, though it is possible he might feel something if the strings are not cut short enough. It is a very effective and relatively trouble – free means of keeping women infertile from the medical point of view; it is relatively cheap compared to having your tubes tied (http://www.feministing.com/archives/007561.html), it requires no repeat supply, like condoms or the pill. It is used as part of the one-child policy in China; 45% of Chinese women have one (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-01/18/content_410003.htm).
    Being in some discomfort at the moment, I can’t help but feel the advantages of the coil are largely enjoyed by men (freedom from condoms and near-guarantee of no unwanted children; relative ease of use by medics and politicians) whereas the associated problems are all borne by women (pain, anaemia, potential infertility).

    I think I might get mine taken out.

    Is the IUD just another instrument of women’s oppression? or does more choice equal more freedom?

    Any views on this?
    Thanks!


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