I’m the kind of gal who thinks educated, confident young women ought to be in control of their lives. And I hate it when I read stories that prove me wrong. Like this one, in the Daily Telegraph, about a new British government plan that will tell doctors “to advise young women they should not automatically opt for oral contraceptives and instead think about using newer methods that last between three months and five years.” I don’t have strong opinions about which particular contraceptive method(s) should be used, other than to say I would personally choose the least invasive kind. But what to make of this:
At present, most women who ask their GPs for contraception are prescribed the Pill. Only about 14 per cent use a long-acting method such as the injection or implant, whereas 35 per cent – more than three million – use the Pill.
But more then three quarters forget to take their Pill on two or more consecutive days each month, meaning they risk falling pregnant.
Forgetting to take it is the most common reason for unwanted pregnancy cited by women seeking abortions.
I don’t mean to sound like a crusty old goat (no more than usual, I mean). But if you’re on the pill, and it’s your main method of contraception, and you’re, shall we say, “active”, the least you can do is remember to take the blasted thing every day. And if you forget? Wait until the next cycle to resume your, er, activities. It’s not that difficult, you know.
Andrea adds: Many reasons to find newspapers depressing, but to the topic at hand: Waiting til the next cycle to “resume activities” requires speaking to your partner about why those “activities” have been unceremoniously halted. And The Pill is, I’m convinced, specially designed to ensure lower communication levels: More time “being active” and less time on pesky distractions, like talking. “A little less conversation, a little more action“–Some day a pharmaceutical company will use Elvis to advertise.
Rebecca adds: A doctor once told me why she’s in favour of Depo, despite its significant health risks, for teenagers. Young women in her experience were too irresponsible, and their schedules were too erratic, to use the birth control pill properly. Their mothers, on the other hand, could be trusted to get them to the doctor every three months for a shot. The complete parental surrender implicit in this, not to mention the question-begging as to whether facilitating sexual activity for people too young and irresponsible to use the pill, is staggering. I guess today is my day to be a crusty old goat, too.
Patricia adds: I’ll see your “crusty old goat” and raise you a “cynical witch”.
Let’s face it. The Pill is about consequence-free sex. So why should you even have to talk to your partner about pregnancy? I mean, you just want to have sex; what has one got to do with the other?
It seems to me that teenagers are especially susceptible to this way of thinking. You see it in other areas of their lives. For example, most teenagers can look forward to long lives, and as a result, they think that and behave as if they are immortal. With respect to sex, everywhere teens turn in our culture, they see it portrayed as some high-level recreational activity which may or may not have some emotional content, but certainly no real consequences. (Juno and Knocked up being the exception – sufficiently exceptional to be talked about as some kind of countercultural phenomena.)
I’m convinced that, as a result, teenagers (and not just teenagers) think at some level that sex really is consequence free. And all this despite the “blah, blah, blah” from counsellors and public health educators way off in the background (like Charlie Brown’s teacher) about STD’s, safe sex, using condoms, etc.
The result is that you end up with people thinking in some haphazard way that they can have sex and still somehow shouldn’t get pregnant, even if they haven’t taken their pills “properly”.
Suddenly, a pregnant women is victim of fate, not because of poverty or abuse or any number of the various terrible things that can happen to people, but just by virtue of being pregnant. Why else would a person feel that their lives have been “stolen” from them, just because they got pregnant after they had sex?
And I think this view of themselves as victims may be why women see themselves as entitled to do this otherwise awful thing to themselves and to their unborn child, to “get back their lives”, to paraphrase the abortionist in yesterday’s Post.