Feminista: contraceptives

[Columns, letters or cartoons published are the work of the attributed author and do not necessarily represent the official views or opinions of “The Highland Echo.”]

There’s a big debate in this country concerning contraceptives right now. In fact, we’ve had more than our share of opinion pieces concerning it in the “Echo,” and I have certainly weighed in. The fact is that the attitude toward contraceptives is changing in our part of the world. A trifecta of events has led me to write yet another piece on birth control and its importance to women. Soon enough, women’s birth control will be covered at no cost thanks to Obamacare. Recently, the United Nations declared access to contraception a universal human right.

And just last week, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement supporting the over-the-counter sale of oral contraceptives. Even I am surprised at this quick progression of contraception support. It seems as though the world is saying that contraception is not only important, but vital to the health of women.

Maybe the world has finally realized that a society full of healthy and free women promotes a healthy society overall. I am incredibly thrilled by this news. Honestly, for a little while, I was shaking in my boots about women’s issues, particularly a woman’s access to birth control. As I watched the Republican Party become not just the anti-abortion party but the anti-contraception party during this election season, I feared that things were backsliding into an era of forced housewifery and back alley abortions.

So, I’m really excited that the rest of the world also believes that this is a huge issue and, for once, it seems like pretty much everyone is on my side. Or at least those currently in power are. But there are tons of people who still fear women’s access to birth control like it’s the plague. Listen, I’ve seen the plague on the backs of prairie dogs in South Dakota, and it looks nothing like my 28-day oral contraceptive. I promise. And that’s what I really believe this all comes down to – Fear.

I don’t think that people who believe that women’s access to contraceptives should be dictated by their age or socioeconomic position necessarily hate women. I think that they truly believe that if these women are able to regulate their own sexuality to the degree that patriarchy has little to no control over their sexuality that all hell will break lose.

This fear comes from a deeply internalized belief that all women are really just whores, and if we allow them to act of their own accord, sexual indiscretions will become rampant and the moral fabric of our society will cease to exist. Then all the good men of the world will apparently be left clicking the heels of their red, sparkly flats and chanting, “there’s no place like home,” left in a world where they have to make their own sandwiches and their freak in the bed is no longer a lady in the street.

But the truth is that access to birth control does none of those things. What access to contraception does is give women the power to decide where, when and how she begins her family. What contraception does is dramatically lower abortion rates and increases the number of healthy babies. Contraception improves the quality of the lives of women and their children.

It doesn’t promote promiscuity or turn women into crazed sex fiends. When we make contraception readily available to women in our society, we change the lives of not just the women who have access to it, but everyone around them. We should extend this fundamental human right to all women, no questions asked; no credit checks, employment history or sexual partner survey required.

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