If You Don’t Want a Baby, Just Don’t Have Sex?

One common objection to my pro-life movement post was to my emphasis on birth control. Several commenters argued that  abortion would disappear if people would just stop having sex unless they were open to having children. Sex and procreation should always be linked, additional readers insisted. Now as I have discussed before, we now have the technology to separate sex and procreation and there is no reason outside of religious dogma why we shouldn’t separate the two. The idea that sex needs to have “consequences” is based in socially constructed beliefs about sex, not in any sort of universal absolute.

The objection, however, was based on the assumption that a zygote/embryo/fetus is a baby with a right to be carried to term. Birth control, as the objection went, could actually serve to raise the abortion rate by encouraging people not ready to have children to have sex at the risk, however small, of becoming pregnant. After all, birth control does have a failure rate and the only completely foolproof way to avoid pregnancy is abstinence from sex. Along with this objection came the suggestion that I must not have understood all of this when I was pro-life, or else I would not have been so willing to embrace birth control as the solution. While I no longer have moral qualms about abortion, I think this objection is worth addressing.

A Moral Obligation

Yes, I am aware that if everyone was abstinent and avoided intercourse unless open to having a baby, the demand for abortion would drop like a rock. I’m aware of that now and I was aware of that then. The thing is, I was also aware that I cannot make people stop having sex. I knew that I was dealing with reality, not an ideal world. When I was pro-life, I thought the primary goal was decreasing the number of babies being murdered, not stopping people from having sex I believed was wrong. Yes, I knew that getting people to stop having sex would bring the abortion rate down. But given that my primary goal was to stop the murders of unborn babies, I was willing to consider and adopt any of a variety of tactics in order to do this. With future murders on the line, I was not willing to refuse to consider any tactic outside of getting people to stop having sex. If it is about ending the murders of unborn babies, and not about sex, then a pro-lifer should be morally required to consider a variety of tactics.

But perhaps these commenters are more right than even they realized. I did misunderstand the goals of the pro-life movement. I mistakenly thought that the goal was preventing the murders of unborn babies, and that we should therefore naturally consider a variety of tactics in order to do this. I guess I didn’t realize that any tactic that didn’t involve stopping people from having sex should be off the table before the conversation even began. I guess I was too focused on my desire to end the murders of unborn babies to get that memo.

The Birth Control Failure Rate

Yes, birth control has a failure rate. You see, this is the conversation we should be having! Rather than putting birth control off the table and focusing on getting people to just not have sex, why not look at what science says about the failure rates of the various types and encourage those that work best, or better yet, work toward developing birth control methods with lower failure rates? If the goal is simply to prevent unborn babies from being murdered, this would seem to be a moral imperative

The Mirena IUD, for instance, has a 0.7% failure rate over its five years of use. This means that for 1000 women who use a Mirena IUD, over the course of five years 7 will become pregnant. That’s only a little over one woman per year, out of 1000. And that’s not just the perfect use rate either, it’s the typical use rate.

 (source)

Let’s try a little experiment. Let’s imagine for a moment that this 1000 women were sexually active over the course of five years and used no birth control at all. Eighty-five percent of them would become pregnant in the first year alone, meaning 850 pregnancies. What if they used condoms instead, with a typical use failure rate of 18%? The result would be 180 pregnancies in the first year alone. What if they used the birth control pill instead, with a typical use failure rate of 9%? The result would be 90 pregnancies in the first year alone. (Let me point out that part of the reason the typical use failure rates on these things are so high is lack of education about proper use. At perfect use, only 10 of 1000 women on the pill become pregnant each year, and only 20 of 1000 women using condoms.) The Mirena IUD? Only one or two pregnancies in that first year for that entire 1000 women.

Now, let’s imagine encouraging a sample of 1000 women who would otherwise be sexually active to just not have sex. Let’s imagine that three-fourths of them abstain, and the other quarter don’t. The result would be 212 pregnancies in the first year, more pregnancies than either the sample using condoms or the sample on the pill, even when using typical use rates rather than perfect use rates. Now let’s imagine that the quarter of the encouraged-to-abstain sample have sex only half as frequently as they would have otherwise. The result would be 106 pregnancies in one first year, still more than those on the pill at typical use and significantly more than those on either the pill or using condoms at perfect use. And remember, of the 1000 women using the Mirena IUD only 1 or 2 would get pregnant in that same time.

One reason that Europe has a lower abortion rate is that more European women use IUDs and other more reliable forms of birth control. Why do comparatively few American women use IUDs? In large part because they are pricey, running from $700 to over $1000 to have them put in. If IUDs and other more effective means of birth control are offered free of charge, this changes.

Free birth control led to dramatically lower rates of abortions and teen births, a large study concludes. The findings were eagerly anticipated and come as a bitterly contested Obama administration policy is poised to offer similar coverage.

The project tracked more than 9,000 women in St. Louis, many of them poor or uninsured. They were given their choice of a range of contraceptive methods at no cost – from birth control pills to goof-proof options like the IUD or a matchstick-sized implant.

When price wasn’t an issue, women flocked to the most effective contraceptives – the implanted options, which typically cost hundreds of dollars up-front to insert. These women experienced far fewer unintended pregnancies as a result, reported Dr. Jeffrey Peipert of Washington University in St. Louis in a study published Thursday.

But for all my time in the pro-life movement, I never heard this sort of thing discussed. Not once. Instead, the focus was all on banning abortion, on talking women out of having abortions by whatever means possible, and on things like abstinence education. I mean, my goodness, I remember one pro-life banquet I attended with my Students for Life group in college where an abstinence education group that goes from school to school making presentations gave a talk about their efforts. And the thing is, much of it was scare tactics, all about how if you have sex you won’t succeed academically, or about how the condom and the pill aren’t actually effective, or that if you have sex with someone you’ll never be able to bond with anyone in the future, etc.

Instead of harping on the birth control failure rate, why not work to develop more effective methods of birth control and to encourage the use of the more effective means we currently have? The reason I changed my focus to birth control was that I knew that we couldn’t just make women stop having sex. I knew that that would not be an effective way to achieve the goal, if the goal was preventing the murder of unborn babies. My goal was to decrease the number of abortions, and in that effort I was willing to consider all sorts of strategies to achieve this end, including birth control. If the goal is to keep babies from being murdered and not to control sex, then those who are pro-life should be pouring money into developing more effective methods of birth control and into paying for women who can’t afford it to be able to use the most effective birth control methods, like the Mirena IUD or an implant.

Conclusion

When the emphasis is placed on trying to convince people to not have sex unless they are open to having a baby, even when making effective means of birth control more widespread and available would actually be more effective in bringing down the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions, well, it becomes pretty clear that I did misunderstand the pro-life movement as a child, teen, and young adult, and this was the point of my original point. I thought the primary goal was preventing the murder of babies, and that in order to do that we should be willing to examine a variety of different strategies to go about achieving the goal, things like improving the social safety net for mothers or making birth control more effective and widespread. But if the only solutions the pro-life movement is willing to pursue are urging people to be abstinent, banning abortion, or doing whatever possible to keep women who are already pregnant from having abortions, well, it really does start to sound like it’s about believing that sex should always be attached to procreation and needs to have “consequences” and not about preventing the murder of unborn babies.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Aviatrix

    Another way you can tell it’s not about preventing unwanted conception, but enforcing sexual mores is that the abstinence being promoted is not abstinence from intercourse, but abstinence from sex. Period. There are a lot of creative ways to enjoy sex without intercourse (and therefore not risk a pregnancy) but of course that is never mentioned. Yeah, it’s personal, but what about this topic isn’t? No, it’s sex-for-procreation-only-or-no-sex-at-all. An argument that is supposedly about life or death ethics is used in an attempt to coerce a particular brand of prudish morality. Of course, you know if it were men who got pregnant the discussion would be entirely different and abstinence would be an entirely separate topic.

  • jose

    IIRC this movement also encourages you to submit to your husband whenever he wants sex. Summarizing:
    - Don’t have sex till you want a kid.
    - Have sex whenever your husband wants.
    Since birth control is a no-no, that leaves you with no input at all regarding your own pregnancies. That’s not right.

    • victoria

      In the big thread, someone posted a link to a blog that discussed a woman who was an observant Catholic in Brazil and wanted to practice NFP but her husband was not on board with being abstinent during her fertile period. Can’t seem to track it down now but it was thought-provoking.

      I’d be very, very interested to see an Evangelical take on whether one partner in a marriage is obliged to provide the other partner with sexual intimacy and whose wishes trump the other’s when one spouse wants (more/any) children and the other doesn’t — in that theology, is the onus on the partner who wants kids to accede to the other partner’s wishes and remain celibate, or is the onus on the partner who doesn’t want kids to accept the possibility?

  • machintelligence

    “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” Florynce Kennedy 1972

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    Also, if you can afford it, you can use two methods of birth control at the same time which is what my boyfriend and I do using the pill and condoms.

    Another thing that you’ve already pointed in previous posts is that a big number of people having abortions are already married and an even bigger percentage already have children so their typical stereotype of only being high school “sluts” who should wait doesn’t work so well with reality on that front either.

    • jose

      Ditto on two methods. During high school we were big on condoms (that’s from the 90s!), but from uni on, every woman I’ve known was using oral contraceptives as well.

      • Christine

        Just please please please never mix multiple condoms, no matter what type they are.

      • jose

        ^ I’m sorry?

      • Twist

        I *think* 7 means that wearing more than one condom at the same time makes them more likely to break/slip off during intercourse, thus lowering their effectiveness. Could be wrong.

      • jose

        ^ Oh no no, I meant condom+pill :)

      • Isa

        Why, just why, would you use a condom while you are on the pill in a relationship? To me, the whole point of the pill is to make sure you can always have sex and never have to worry about contraception. Mixing condoms into that destroys the whole idea. “Oh shit, we’re out of condoms and thus can’t have intercourse – even though I’m taking a daily dose of hormones to make sure I can have intercourse”.

        I can understand the condom at the beginning of the relationship if you’re not sure of the possible infections your partner might have, but it’s quite a lot easier to just get tested, and leave the condom out when you know you’re both clean. Using the condom with the pill to prevent pregnancy sounds hysterical. I’ve been on the pill for six years now and never used a condom with my long-term boyfriends (two of them). Not a single accident.

      • http://ripeningreason.com/ Rachel Marcy (Bix)

        @Isa, Whatever works for you is cool, but oral contraceptives are in the second tier of effectiveness (IUDs, implants, and sterilization are first tier) because they are subject to greater user failure (forgotten or mistimed pills) and because it can take some women a few tries to find a pill that works for them, since people have different responses to hormones. That’s why people on the pill use condoms as a back-up; they’re not very effective for everyone.

      • Christine

        @Twist & Isa Yes, I was referring to the fact that using multiple condoms (this includes two of the same kind, which hopefully is obviously stupid enough that no one tries it).

        @Rachel Marcy (Bix) I think that the issue with oral contraceptives being considered second tier because of user failure (as opposed to the fact that you don’t know which one works for you until you try it) is a huge problem with how we report effectiveness: is the as-used so low because people have a hard time with it or because people can’t be bothered to actually do it? (Putting a condom on improperly and having it fail because of that effects as-used, not theoretical effeciency, but is very different from choosing to not use it half the time.)

  • K S

    I was thinking that if a guy says that woman should just keep her legs closed.
    1. Ask him if he is in a relationship.
    2. Ask him he tells his lady friend or spouse to not have sex with him because he can’t afford any mouths to feed. that if he is willing to abstain for years if it meant not having anymore children.
    3. when he says no, ask him what gives him the right to tell everyone else to do the same.

    I just can’t imagine a guy telling his girlfriend I don’t want any kids keep your legs closed b****!
    I can’t imagine a guy would be faithful to an abstinent woman

    • anon

      Well, that´s what I did – NFP means abstinence for the time the wife is fertile. And we did it for several years until I had finished my job training.
      Of course this means there is at times less intercourse than we would want, but then there are other ways …
      And if you are consequent there is a nearly 100% success rate – it´s missing in the graph – coincidence? I don´t think so!
      Faithful? A guy maybe not, but a man will be!

      • Meghan

        And as Libby Anne stated in a previous post. NFP practically becomes a full time hobby for the woman. You have to check your basal temperature, cervix, and cervical mucous every morning and chart them. Plus until you have several months of charts you don’t know what your fertile days are. I used NFP too. Now I have an IUD, much easier.

        As mentioned by some commenters, many pro-life advocates also teach that marriage = sexual consent. Marital rape hasn’t been illegal for very long. So what is a woman using NFP supposed to do if her husband wants sex on a fertile day and she feels she shouldn’t/can’t say no?

      • anon

        @ Meghan: Sorry, I don´t seem to be able to reply to your post.
        I am all for birth control, don´t get me wrong! We just decided to do it this way! So if you´re cool with any other method, that is fine with me – as if you needed the consent of some internet stranger! ;-)

        I was just replying to :”I just can’t imagine a guy telling his girlfriend I don’t want any kids keep your legs closed b****!
        I can’t imagine a guy would be faithful to an abstinent woman”

        My wife told me that this was how she wanted it! And guess what – I respected her choice! I would have had no problem with her taking the pill – it would have meant more sex for us! but then what is a marriage without respect? And if he can´t imagine being faithful under such circumstances – that shows me more about him than I like!
        Full time hobby? No way, a few minutes – and if it is a hobby it is one for both! I did the graph – not that I needed it after some time, I could smell where she was in her cycle! And of course if only works in a relationship where the man doesn´t view his wife as some kind of sex puppet! And one more thing: sex does´nt have to mean intercourse, does it? WE were rather creative …

      • Steve

        It also means not having sex when the woman is most horny. But of course religious men wouldn’t care about that. What insanity.

      • anon

        @steve: What part of:
        “My wife told me that this was how she wanted it!”
        didn´t you get?

      • Meghan

        We’re not just talking about you and your wife. But pointing the weaknesses and flaws of the pro-life movement and arguments. Of course NFP may work for you. But it doesn’t work for many other couples. The fact that many in the pro-life movements, especially Catholics, promote NFP as the only moral form of BC is problematic. Continuing to argue “this is what works for us, so your rebuttal is inconsequential” ignores that we are talking about everyone, not just you.

      • Liberated Liberal

        Anon, I think the miscommunication is coming from the fact that NFP normally means Strict Catholic Doctrine, which doesn’t actually give women a choice. It also does not allow, under any circumstances, for “other ways” of sexual satisfaction. Therefore, you get no sex at all until a woman knows she is infertile which usually equals NO desire. Also, you were the lucky ones – it actually worked for you. For many, it doesn’t work at all, no matter how devoted the couple may be. People are attacking the strict Catholic version of NFP only and NFP their way only, not at you. It’s easy to assume that any NFP user is a strict Catholic who thinks nobody should have a choice – which doesn’t seem to be your situation at all.

      • Niemand

        The thing about NFP is that while its primary effect is that the sperm and the oocyte never meet, that’s not its only effect. Even a woman with a “regular” cycle will occasionally ovulate off schedule. Human bodies are just like that. But NFP has an automatic backup: when fertilization occurs in an environment that’s not quite right, i.e. off the peak fertile time, there is a much greater chance that it will fail to implant or be washed away with the next period, having failed to have enough time to make the hormones necessary to stop the period.

        In short, NFP works in much the same way that the Catholic church says OCP do. If abortion is murder, is NFP reckless endangerment?

      • The_L

        I’m glad it worked for you! But does that mean that it should be the only method ever used by anyone?

    • anon

      OK, let me spell it out: I am not promoting NFP as THE method of birth control, I am saying it is ONE method, that works for some and not for others!
      I was replying to K S
      ad 1 yes, I am
      ad 2 no, MY WIFE WANTED IT THAT WAY
      ad 3 no, I´m not

      and to his last comment on being faithful!
      And if we are talking about everyone then we are also talking about me and telling me I would not be faithful to my wife under these circs is just bullshit and defamatory. If he (I suppose he is!) can´t – well, too bad!

      • anon

        Ah, yes one more thing:
        I ended the whole thing in my marriage – I got a vasectomy. I think that is a possibility many men do not want to consider. Of course it is rather final, but if you are sure – do man up, please!

      • Liberated Liberal

        I think a vasectomy is one of the most precious gifts a husband can give a wife who doesn’t want children. Ummm. Typed out that seems kind of snarky – I think I read too much online sarcasm, but I actually mean it :D.

    • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

      “I can’t imagine a guy would be faithful to an abstinent woman”
      Really? Basically you’re saying that in order to have a boyfriend, I need to be sexually active. Whoa, what happened to women being able to set their own boundaries and expect men to respect them- that’s like the MOST IMPORTANT PART of feminism.

      For what it’s worth, I know a lot of Christian guys who are committed to not having sex before marriage.

      • anon

        Thanks!

      • SophieUK

        I think she means in the very long term. It’s one thing to expect someone to wait until you’re both married; it’s quite another to think that if you unilaterally end you and your husbands sex lives for several decades or more, there will not be repercussions for that marriage, including the risk that your partner may choose to leave. Most people see sex as an integral part of a marriage and if it is withdrawn for very long periods of time these people are likely to see the marriage as essentially being dead. I personally don’t even think this is unreasonable. I don’t know if I’d stay in a sexless marriage.

      • chris buchholz

        are you both willing to wait decades, even AFTER you’re married, before having sex? Because it could take 10 years or more to climb out of poverty?

        Can you even do that? Do you think that even once you won’t give into temptation and have sex with your own husband?

        Because that’s what you are asking others to do

      • ophelia

        I’m a woman, and I wouldn’t stay in a sexless relationship. Of course, I wouldn’t get involved with a guy with that viewpoint, either.

  • Meghan

    The argument to abstain unless you are ready for a baby ignores humanity. Sex is a normal part of life and, at one point, was necessary to propagate the species. To deny sexual needs on a large scale is a public health nightmare. As Libby Anne and many others have pointed out, modern medicine uncouples many risks from activities we take part in. For example, I would be more hesitant about letting my 2 year old climb and play roughly if when she broke a bone I would have to set it and hope it healed normally.
    Sex is an important part of my marriage. My husband and I probably want one more child, we have one now, but have to wait to see what happens with our careers first (hello financial considerations for baby planning!!). I see no reason to stay celibate from age 25 to menopause if I don’t want more children.

    • phantomreader42

      The argument to abstain unless you are ready for a baby ignores humanity.

      In my experience, fetus-fetishists have little to no understanding of humanity. How could they, they pretend that a brainless microbe is human, while a woman is not!

    • Anonymous

      The other thing is that it doesn’t take into account (or it does, if it’s trying to prevent it) the way our world has changed since those mores were invented. More and more people are going to college and overall delaying when they enter their primary career, things that are usually supposed to be “settled” before you get married. So the marriage age is getting higher and higher. Abstinence until marriage was unrealistic enough when the average age of first marriage was 20, but when it’s in the mid- to late 20s as it is now, it just doesn’t make biological sense. There is increasing evidence that, at least for men, there are biological problems if you wait too long to have sex. The human body wasn’t designed to be waiting for 10, 15, or even 20 years after puberty for the first time we have sex.

      • Meghan

        But waiting until marriage is only one aspect. Heterosexual couples would have to abstain from intercourse whenever they didn’t want children. I’ll probably be done having kids in a couple of years (and we don’t want another until then and possibly not at all). According to the no BC/anti-choice set my husband and I should abstain from intercourse.

  • K S

    some interesting articles
    Philippines birth control: Filipinos want it, priests don’t
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/population/la-fg-population-matters5-20120729-html,0,5897961.htmlstory

    very good article about the devastating affects of restricting birth control from poor families.

    Church’s ban on contraception starves families and damages ecosystem
    http://ncronline.org/blogs/grace-margins/churchs-ban-contraception-starves-families-and-damages-ecosystem

    als worth noting.

    I was a foster kid
    http://looneytunes09.wordpress.com/
    nice blog by a former foster and the traumatic affects of being thrown into the system.

    • Liberated Liberal

      These are amazing and devastating articles. How does anybody see this situation and think it is a good thing? The mayor is turning a blind eye to the utter devastation taking place and says it is good for the economy? Having a 1/3 poverty rate?? If anyone believes in evil, they should see it in the Catholic Bishops and people like this mayor, NOT the woman who doesn’t want more children. I will shove these articles down the throat of every Catholic who tries to push their morality onto me- even though they will choose to ignore reality, as they ALWAYS do.
      And I hope your journey through the foster system wasn’t too horrible :(.

  • http://madphotog.blogspot.com gustovcarl

    Libby, you’re just making too much sense.

    Keep it up.

  • jemand

    One can also perfectly well combine various BC techniques. A copper IUD, a hormonal pill, and a condom, could all be safely used together and result in a bit less than 5 unplanned pregnancies per TEN MILLION women using the combination.

    That would be equivalent of convincing all ten million women– except six, to be completely abstinent. .85*6 would be a bit more than five unplanned pregnancies.

    • jemand

      I mean… I haven’t done the numbers, but in 10 million abstinent but fertile women, *rape* may result in more pregnancies than that.

      • Andrew G.

        Using the most restrictive possible definition of “rape”, i.e. only looking at stereotypical rape-by-violence reported to the police, using US figures, the number for 10 million women would be about 5000 rapes per year causing about 250 pregnancies.

        Using a more realistic definition of rape, that number is at least 10 times higher, as shown by the fact that there are about 32,000 known rape-related pregnancies in the US annually, in a population of maybe 100m fertile women.

    • Michael Busch

      jemand, your analysis is correct only if the different forms of contraception act independently of each other. I don’t have the data to say if that is the case for the examples you give, and a brief Google search did not find a study reporting on the effectiveness of stacking different methods of contraception. This makes some sense, since you would need a very large sample population using each of the different possible combinations to get good statistics when the failure rate is that low.

      In any event: the failure rate of sub-dermal implants is 0.05%/year, somewhat better than the IUDs but with a lower lifetime. Using that number, the rate of rape-related pregnancies in the US is comparable to but probably not greater than the failure rate of contraceptives. That is a sad commentary on our society.

      Given the misogyny in many objection to using contraceptives, I wonder what will happen when far more effective reversible _male_ contraception is available. That is most likely to be independent of whatever methods women are using, and so most likely to bring failure rates down to parts-per-million. There has been some progress on this recently. Vasalgel is currently in Stage III trials in India, which will be able to determine if the failure rate (in the absence of other contraceptive methods) is as low as permanent vasectomy or merely several times lower than the perfect-use condom failure rate.

      I’m using the numbers from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_birth_control_methods , which match Libby Anne’s sources.

      A final thought: We have developed technology that changes previously-universal properties of human biology. Nobody should think that society can remain unchanged when such technology is around. So why is there this group of people that says “this is the way things have been and they have to stay that way, so you should keep suffering” ?

      • jemand

        Well, yeah, my numbers do assume that, but the copper IUD inhibits sperm motility in the uterus and fallopian tubes, the hormonal contraception inhibits ovulation, and the condom is a barrier that inhibits the sperm even *reaching* the vagina and beyond.

        So, the best-known mode of action are pretty completely independent in the three… so I figured it was safe to conclude that their failure modes would work independently as well.

      • Michael Busch

        It’s certainly plausible that a copper IUD, hormonal contraception, and condoms would act mostly independently – just like Vasalgel and any form of female contraception should act independently. It’s just that a ten-million-user comparison study would be a massive project.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        ^ And spermicide too!

      • jemand

        I’m trying to imagine a 10 million strong user comparison study. Lol.

        Failing.

      • Michael Busch

        Such a study would have to be done on an epidemiological level, comparing the rate of unintended pregnancy in a population where many people stacked different methods of contraception with one where they did not. It would be much like how we can say that higher contraceptive uptake in Western Europe is why the rate of unintended pregnancy there is far lower than it is in the United States, just with much lower rates.

        The necessary sample size does depend on the methods concerned. Testing the hypothesis that condoms + oral contraceptives is far better than the pill alone could be done directly by surveying a few thousand users. But the failure rates for IUDs and subdermal implants (and Vasalgel in trials-to-date) are already so low that the effect of stacking anything with them becomes hard to measure.

        But having the rate of unintended pregnancy using a particular means of contraception be too low to be easily measured _is a very good problem to have_.

  • Stony

    So where does that leave me? I’m a married hetero woman, and at the time I was married was still identifying as Christian, so let’s throw that in there, too. Our first pregnancy started fine but by the last trimester had become high-risk. The delivery had what we still delicately call “complications”, leaving me with a very cool little boy and some very real long-term health issues. Another pregnancy would in all likelihood cause me further health damage, if not kill me outright. So what do I do in the hypothetical world above? Abstain while married? Ludicrous….we are sexual beings. Would I expect my husband to seek sexual gratification outside marriage? Divorce me because I’m no longer “open to procreation”? What utter crap.

    • Steve

      Given that they also claim that the only purpose of marriage is procreation and childrearing, then yes they should advocate forcefully divorcing anyone who isn’t procreating. But being the lying hypocrites that they are, they don’t.

      • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

        But divorce is also Wrong. (In our pre-marital seminar someone asked about sterile people getting married. The answer was basically, ‘that might change’.) It’s ridiculous how tiny a box they want to fit the world into.

      • Rosie

        I don’t think the church is very far removed from its historical position that women should be encouraged to die in childbirth (preferably birthing a son), as that’s the only way they can be saved.

      • Steve

        The Catholic church is all for women dying in childbirth. They’ve made that clear on many occasions:
        http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19190916/ns/health-womens_health/

        Note the part about them waiting for infection to set in before operating on ectopic pregnancies that are never viable in the first place

  • http://thechurchproject.me Tracey

    I thought I’d try to comment right away this time since my phone can’t handle viewing comments once they reach 300+. I apologize if this point has already been made.
    I think your argument is getting stuck by the idea held by some that legality = approval. In your scenario (several posts ago with all the stats) you do not actually approve of zygotes dying. What you do is acknowledge the reality of some amount of zygote death in all cases, and try to minimize it. Doctors don’t approve of pain, but some amount is necessary in surgery to remove a ruptured appendix. If pain is a reality how can we minimize it? If zygote death is a reality, how can we minimize it? If unwanted pregnancy is a reality, how can we minimize it?
    Another example: during the peiod of Prohibition, as a nation we felt alcohol should not have our approval and we made it illegal. People still drank though, and things were kind of a mess with the crime that came from people obtaining alcohol illegally. When alcohol was re-legalized, it was less about approval for drinking; rather it was acknowledgement that drinking was happening anyway, how can we make it less dangerous? It’s also the reason people advocate legalizing marijuana.
    Legalization doesn’t have to mean approval. I think it’s easy to fall into the trap that they are equivalent.
    And this is a related concept to the whole “sex needs consequences!” because it is more about working to demonstrate disapproval than it is about figuring out what works in reality. And I think it’s possible to be unaware of how counterproductive that is.

    • Doe

      I think this is a really good point. Also, things that are legal are regulated, which is a huge point in the debate for decriminalizing marijuana, prostitution, and once upon a time alcohol. Abortion needs to remain legal so it can be regulated to ensure proper medical care.

      “Sex needs consequences” people are happy to throw people in bad situations under the bus in their effort to demonstrate disapproval, because their goal is not to change the people who have already screwed up but to scare their teens and young adults into following their rules. We have seen this for decades with single mothers. It is absolutely counterproductive and makes them look like a jerk.

      • smrnda

        People who believe birth control is wrong want to see it regulated. I have, however, not seen any attempts by Catholics or others who believe this in making any number of other things (like not belonging to their religion) illegal. I think people just feel that sex is something that needs to be regulated.. by them.

    • http://allweathercyclist.blogspot.ca/ JethroElfman

      On the contrary, Libby and pro-choice advocates entirely approve of the death of any number of zygotes. If protecting that blob of cells is in any way important, the body wouldn’t waste so many of them. Saving all the zygotes makes as much sense as declaring sperm to be sacred and fighting to protect them from harm. Can you see where that goes? Stop sperm abuse! Porn causes the death of helpless sperm! Save the sperm! Sperm are human too! Do you have any idea where that shower drain goes? How can you be so heartless as to send defenceless sperm down there! (I actually worry about this myself so much that I quit doing it in the shower, or likewise flushing the tissues down the toilet.) http://save-our-sperm.org/

  • jose

    Btw, why anyone would refer to a world with no sex for fun as an “ideal world” or a “best case scenario” is definitely puzzling.

  • http://www.texannewyorker.com jwall915

    Another excellent article from you Libby Anne. This pro-life argument of not having sex until you’re open to having a baby really annoys me because it assumes that 1) getting married and having babies are automatically coupled together, when they are not; and 2) that married people don’t use and don’t want to use birth control, which again, is not remotely true. I always really resented the idea that because I signed a piece of paper I was now supposed to be open to having a baby I didn’t want. I have many more thoughts on this which I want to write later, when time permits (and when I’m more caffeinated, ha!), but wanted to say kudos to Libby Anne for another great post first. :)

  • Kodie

    I no longer think the goal is ultimately to control women not to have sex. It’s just propaganda, they know everyone is still going to have sex. They are passionate about the “murder” aspect of abortion – propaganda. They are passionate about keeping birth control hidden and unavailable – they say it’s for their children and their morals – and it seems like what they wish for more than anything is a world with Christians just like them and no “sluts” to shame, no unplanned pregnancies outside of marriage. And as has been pointed out many times before, why don’t they seem to care about life after the baby is born? Why cut off programs that might help a woman in such a position be able to afford to keep a baby rather than abort it?

    They are counting on women to keep having sex. In the minds of the pawns, all these limits should deter women from doing things that might jeopardize her. If you don’t have birth control or abortion or welfare available to you, save yourself for marriage and be provided; breed, breed away. Sure, this might even fix the economy, this is an aside – if women just get married and breed, they won’t have all the jobs that men need to to support their families. Can you say “50% unemployment”? No, when people stop looking for work, they don’t count.

    Anyway, the simple-minded would say if you are aware of the steep consequences, you won’t do something. But they are counting on it. Why do Christians set up crisis pregnancy centers really? To help women be able to keep their babies? Or to lull them into the idea of being able to keep their babies? Why do they favor cutting off any other programs that could help a woman not choose abortion, and then offer the only other well-known system of programs that help a woman not choose abortion? They don’t want to empower women they on the other hand shame. How would this all work if they could make women who had sex feel good about themselves? They want the babies put up for adoption to supply the childless white Christian married couples who can offer your filthy baby a better life than you can, because they also made it so you can’t. And they help you to face up to your terrible mistakes and not make one more, to feel selfish and dirty and poor and a bad example, and to love your baby enough to hand it over to someone a lot more together and competent.

    They are counting on women to have sex – the “control” doesn’t seem to be after keeping them from having sex, but to keep them from having other options about the consequences, just like Jesus makes the cure to an illness you don’t have, the pro-life movement makes the solution to your predicament the only way out. They don’t want anyone preventing pregnancies, and they don’t want anyone terminating pregnancies, not because it’s “murder” but “someone else might want that.”

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

    A question I’ve never asked, but next time someone tells me sex should have consequences I will ask is: Why?

    Why does sex need to have consequences?

    • http://eschaton2012.ca Eamon Knight

      Exactly. In a causal world, actions have *effects*. But only some of those cause-effect relations get moralized and called *consequences*. The choice of which ones to moralize is informative re the priorities of the ones doing the choosing, and attempting to make them binding on everyone else.

    • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com somaticstrength

      It seems to me because of the way sex is moralized. The only “good” sex is in a marriage, and the pro-life movement (or the conservative Christian environment I was a part of) never talks about sex in marriage as having ANY consequences. But sex outside of marriage is bad, so it HAS to have consequences because God said so. If it doesn’t have physical consequences, well then, I’ve heard that “consequence-free” sex will cause people to have casual sex ALL the time and will turn their brain to mush and harm their soul. So it still has consequences because it has to have consequences, because it’s wrong and God wouldn’t say something is wrong without a reason. Also, knowing the Christians I know who, when getting pissed off that other people married before them would say things like “well, you know, because God is having us WAIT our marriage is going to be better than all of theirs” I assume that part of the need for sex to have consequences is so people who have abstained until marriage can feel like they did something. I mean, why wait for marriage if other people can have sex and “get away with it,” right?

      • Sarah-Sophia

        Nailed it

  • Steve

    They also need STDs as a scary consequence of sex. They think that if more people used condoms or the HPV vaccine they’d be less scared of sex and would have it more. Can’t have that.

    • Sarah C

      Do pro-lifers actually use STDs as consequences of sex that you have to just accept if you wish to have sex? I mean, have they argued that you shouldn’t get treatment for STDs? That you shouldn’t be seen by a doctor nor given medication/treatment such as antibiotics since it’s your own fault that you got STD in the first place? Sincere questions, as I’m not that familiar with pro-life positions.

      • Meghan

        I’ve never heard anyone advocate against seeking treatment for STIs. I have seen/heard lots of shame associated with STIs, lies about how effective treatment and prevention methods are, and lies about what it’s like to live with an incurable STI. Also, many people are arguing against the HPV vaccine, so, yeah, there are people advocating against prevention of STIs.

      • Stony

        In my limited experience, they sort of present STDs as all Final and Lasting. In other words, you get an STD, you are damaged goods, end of story. The fact that many STDs are not altogether harmful and many are treatable is never mentioned.

      • phantomreader42

        The fetus-fetishists oppose vaccines against HPV, which is sexually transmitted and causes cancer, on the grounds that if women are protected from sexually transmitted ovarian cancer they’ll have more sex. They openly said that they wanted to keep girls from having sex by threat of CANCER, and opposed a vaccine that could prevent CANCER. I am not making this up, they are really that vile.

      • “vile” anon

        @ phantomreader: I guess I would fall into your definition of “fetus-fetishist” and my daughters are BOTH vaccinated!
        Broad brushes sometimes can be misleading, you know?

      • Twist

        @ “vile” anon

        Congratulations. Unlike some, you wouldn’t prefer to risk your daughters getting cancer than risk them having sex.

        However, around the time the vaccine was being introduced on a wide scale over here (the UK) there were christian groups appearing on the BBC talking about how they were against the HPV vaccine because it would ‘encourage teenage girls to have sex’. Yup. They’d rather girls got cancer than had sex. Speaks volumes of what they really think of the value of women.

        Even if it were true, and the vaccine did encourage teens to have more sex, so what? People need to accept that teens and adults are going to have sex no matter what, whether you tell them they’ll burn in hell, whether you try to frighten them with diseases or ridiculous notions that once they’ve had sex with one person, they’ll never be able to bond with anyone else. They’re going to have sex. The best thing we can do is to make sure that young people (and older people) have the means to have sex as safely as possible, and that means free and easily available contraception, and comprehensive sex education in which they are taught how to use the contraception.

      • Rosa

        well, Michele Bachmann among others is anti HPV vaccine. She’s said so publicly many times.

  • RowanVT

    My brother and sister-in-law despise children, so they use birth control to prevent a pregnancy. In a previous relationship, however, my sister-in-law had a boyfriend poke holes in a condom so she would get pregnant and be ‘forced’ to stay with him. Once she realised she was pregnant, she got an abortion and dumped him.

    • Anonymous

      I hope she reported him to the police, too. I think that qualifies as some sort of assault. Plus, it’s not like he isn’t going to pull that shit on other girlfriends.

  • Nurse Bee

    I agree with you. In fact I think pro-life and pro-choicers should get together and agree to find ways to lower abortion rates.

    I do think the experience you’ve had kind of colors your views on the pro-life movement. I’m very pro-life, so is my church. I’ve never been asked to protest (nor would I). We support a crisis pregnancy center which does not shame women or use fear tactics.

    And I agree with you on the NFP/FAM…it’s not really BC. I would know first hand because I got pregnant while practicing it….and yes, I have a baby to show for it…..but after that we took permanent measures to make sure we wouldn’t have anymore kids!

    • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

      Most CPCs do use fear tactics (such as the incorrect link between abortions and breast cancer, depression, or mental health issues; the incorrect claim that abortion is dangerous; the incorrect claim that contraceptives don’t work; and other such false medical statement.)

      CPCs are pro-life, run by Christians or other religious groups, and are usually extremely deceptive. Hopefully yours is not one of these.

      • I hid my identity

        I went to a CPC when I had gotten pregnant. My brief experience with them was that they did not use scare tactics because they didn’t need to with me – I came there for advice and I had hoped to be able to keep my baby. I don’t know about shaming – the woman did encourage me to tell my mother right away, even though I said my mom would be very angry and disappointed in me, she bet on my mom to support and encourage me – she doesn’t know my mom but I don’t know that she wasn’t prepared for that not to happen. She said if I needed it, a family would take me in so I wouldn’t be going through it alone, and that’s all I know about that.

        I also went to a doctor… details are fuzzy on that because I didn’t have a doctor. I think I just found these places out of a yellow pages and being alone, went to places in the phone book to weigh my options. They really wanted to give me an abortion. For profit. I am pro-choice, and I went into a consultation with a private abortionist and was counseled with scare tactics – mostly about keeping a reminder of a bad relationship and sharing custody with someone I never wanted to see again (making assumptions about me; he never wanted to see me again, though, that’s true). That left me a terrible feeling about them, but not about abortion. I should mention I went here before the CPC.

        The guy who got me pregnant was not at all sorry for encouraging me to take chances with my reproduction, and would have kept seeing me, I believe, if I hadn’t dropped the bomb. He used everything he could to get out of it – he was going to marry another girl (I think he actually did because of this just stop being a dog and marry her), he had taken drugs which I didn’t know too much about (I didn’t take drugs) and that the baby would probably be deformed. He never said he wouldn’t support it, he just strongly wished for it to all go away. I don’t have as many illusions about him as I once did, but I can’t say he wasn’t fun, or he would be a bad father, or even that I would have minded looking into a face like his in my child. I did not consider his wishes or threats when I made my decision. I know more about him in hindsight that I did not account for at the time, but other than the one major disagreement, I felt pretty good about him then. When women sleep around they are sluts who should keep their knees shut, because men like him are about and impervious to shame. Then say who has the most casual attitude about abortion? In my experience, men do, and nobody calls them a murderer. Just because I happened to disagree with him about it doesn’t mean he didn’t have valid reasons for protecting his future, and it was an easy choice for him to make. I’ve had other boyfriends for whom the choice is that casual also, at least hypothetically.

        So then I told my mom. Talk about shame.

        Then I called the lady from the CPC the night before my abortion was scheduled because I was to let her know how it went with my mom and I hadn’t told her, so I told her. I said my mind is made up and she seemed really disappointed and maybe even surprised. Hard to tell over the phone. It feels like I caught her off guard and my memory of it feels like I called from a pay phone, so I didn’t leave time for a long conversation about it.

        Planned Parenthood neither encouraged nor discouraged my decision. I didn’t ask them for counseling so they didn’t offer any, they believed me when I said that I knew what I wanted, and they didn’t try to get in any last minute information I might not have considered. I am pretty sure I dodged a bullet from the CPC. It didn’t seem religious there, but it was. I got in one meeting and WIC coupons. I was only at 7 weeks, so knowing what I know now, would have only been a matter of time before she started selling me on how bad a mother I would be when I could give it so much more by giving it to someone else. My mom told me a lot of that already, what a bad mother I would be, so single and poor like I was. When push comes to shove, my mom will obliterate you with every tool in the arsenal to get her way and she wasn’t having a bastard. I still don’t feel good about it, but I have come to realize without my mother, I would have run that gauntlet anyway, and I’d so much rather have an abortion than be stuck at too-late# weeks being pressured to feel that I owe someone else my child.

        My experience outside of the PP was hostility on the way in and on the way out. I yelled back at the picketers to stay out of MY uterus. I was the only one in the waiting room without any accompaniment. My boyfriend drove but elected to wait in the car. My mom was 300 miles away and paid the bill but did not offer to come up and help me deal.

        The judgments people make about people who choose abortion as if it’s a light decision, not fraught with emotional odds or repercussions…. Some people would read my story and think they got some dirt on the “abortion industry” or what pro-choicers really think – my mom is really tough and odd and authoritarian like I imagine Christians who throw their gay child out of the house or play tug-o-war with their love are. I still believe abortion was the best choice I had at the time and the right thing for me, whether or not it pleased other people. I didn’t have resources and I did make a mistake protecting my own body from a man who didn’t really feel committed to me. I know myself much better these years and years later, and adoption would have been my least favorite option. I lived in a world where until I had gotten pregnant, did not know I would have gotten an abortion. Did not know it was so harsh out there for people in my position. It’s not like I tricked my boyfriend into having unprotected sex with me, it’s not like I didn’t know I could get pregnant either, or how he felt ahead of time, or dreamed that getting pregnant would mean he would have to love me and marry me, but I didn’t think it would be the worst thing in the world.

        A pregnant young woman who gets an abortion is not always someone who did not know about or use birth control or is totally surprised about being pregnant or casually goes to get it undone, although scaring people about the deficient public programs and everyone who will reject them before they get pregnant might have an effect. The hardest part about all this is trying to be fair to men – after all, his reaction was totally stereotypical. I was used and unwanted and he had only short-term intentions on me. We weren’t even teenagers who could be excused for not demonstrating forethought or caution (especially for just crossing their fingers). All I know is I don’t think I was being slutty, and if saving lives is a goal, make it so much easier to survive intact. Some people do not welcome the responsibility, but at the time, I felt strong and able enough if not financially well off, was a little romantic I guess. He wasn’t on the same page as me, but liars tell you it will all be ok. If I knew I was going to be abandoned, I might have stopped taking his calls rather than insist on a condom. Not knowing what I’d already been through, I brought up “mature and important talks” with a more recent boyfriend and he split. Apparently you’re not allowed to talk about “where do you stand if pregnancy accidentally occurs” before you have sex because it makes you seem baby-crazy or scheming or rushing into a relationship. Good riddance.

        It’s unfathomable to me there aren’t more programs to help people make the choice they’d rather. CPCs do not. If your family will support you and keep you, I suppose they may, but then that’s not so much of a crisis. If you’re in crisis when you get pregnant, you’re not going to get out of it by adding a baby to your list. They just want you isolated and vulnerable and utterly unable to cope without their intervention. Childless people… I feel bad for someone who wants a child but I don’t agree on this way for them to obtain one.

        But facts are facts – there is hardly any way to “choose life” if you are alone in your choice. I would like to think CPCs care about the women they help, women who voluntarily want their help. When you lay the financials on the table again, face the same facts as several months earlier: there is no way to keep the family together here, it’s just bait and switch, delaying the inevitable. Even if some people think they are altogether benign but don’t give enough – a crib and some diapers or whatever – they’re not trying to incentivize an impoverished, socially isolated, single woman to follow through on pregnancy out of the goodness of their hearts to save the life of a child but to provide fresh product to their real customers, adoptive parents. Why would anyone feel they need to donate money to these places? I don’t think of them as a charity for women in need, while the adoptive parents subsidize them plenty for what they do offer.

      • Steve

        They are also known for delaying tests until having an abortion becomes much harder or legally impossible.

  • Sue Blue

    Sigh. Why is it always the women they’re telling not to have sex? Do these anti-abortion idiots think women have sex with themselves? How about telling men to keep it in their pants….oh, wait – that would go over like a lead balloon. No normal male is going to put up with that, in marriage or out of it. The wigglies have got to get out any way they can, and most men are convinced their balls will turn blue and explode without regular, frequent sex. And since these are the folks who also rail against masturbation, what’s a man supposed to do?

    No abortion, no birth control, no masturbation. Ask them why God created us with such strong sex drives if he didn’t want us to enjoy it. After all, he could have just made it an uncomfortable necessity, like defecation. Once a year or so, when a person reaches physical maturity, they’d have this pressing need to mate and reproduce. It wouldn’t be enjoyable, just necessary. You choose a mate, get married, and pump out a kid like a turd every couple of years. No “sinful” pleasure at all….wouldn’t God be so happy?

    • Andrew G.

      In much of the rest of the animal kingdom, in fact, sex is something that happens only at specific times and more or less inevitably results in pregnancy. Even in other K-strategists, reproduction rate is more often kept low by making sex infrequent rather than unreliable. Human sex, with its pitiful success rate of only about 0.85 pregnancies after an entire year of frequent fucking, is clearly the result of extensive adaptation in the direction of maximizing the amount of sex while minimizing the chance of pregnancy.

      • Judy L.

        So very true. Coitus with ejaculation is what can result in conception. Sex, in all its many awesome forms, is so much more than just coitus and is not primarily for the purposes of procreation. It’s primarily social, recreational, and unitive (brings people together and bonds them through chemical and hormonal changes in the body and pleasure). People have sex because it’s pleasurable and because our bodies have a drive to orgasm. People who can’t have children or can’t have them anymore still have sex. Gay people have sex even though they can’t accidentally conceive a child together as a result.

    • jemand

      This really isn’t true.

      I mean, this is the worldview that my church DID teach me. This IS the messages I got, and noticed, in what was told me, and the young men of the church.

      But now? The men I know now? The one I dated a few years ago, and then the one who kindly turned me down recently preferring to remain completely single? This whole picture of men as sex-crazed maniacs is NOT TRUE. My male coworker engaged to someone on the opposite side of the world he rarely can see, my male friend dating someone who has to work 8 months of the year in another state… Sex is not the motivating factor for them. They’re human beings, with rich, complex, internal lives and relationships with other humans male or female. Not sex-driven maniacs.

      There have definitely been times over the past few years where I am just hit with a pretty incredible realization that “my ex-religion lied to me about men.”

      It’s true. They lied, SO MUCH. And for all that the culture seems to think it’s feminists who are the man-haters… I can’t imagine a worse picture of who men are than the one I was taught growing up.

      • Judy L.

        I have no idea what the nature of your friends’ and coworkers’ relationships with their partners are, but neither do you. Many couples, especially those who must live apart for extended periods of time, have agreements by which they get their sexual needs met through other people. The standard assumption that all couples are monogamous is not borne out by people’s actual behaviour. Even people who think they’re in a sexually monogamous relationship can be wrong about this (think Maria Schriver and Arnold). Plenty of people have sexual relationships with other people while having a primary partner to whom they’re committed with that partners’ consent, or sometimes without it in order to stay sane and stay in that primary relationship. There are plenty of married couples who no longer have sex with each other, but you’d never know that just from looking at them, and you would probably not know that even if you knew them really well. You’re right, both men and women can have relationships without being ‘sex-driven maniacs’, and sex may not always be a motivating factor in someone’s desire to establish and maintain a relationship, but for the overwhelming majority of us, sex is something we want and need, but not everyone wants, needs, or has the opportunity to have sex with a partner with whom they’re also emotionally involved.

    • Anonymous

      Well, some of us women DO have sex with other women, but that’s not the kind of sex that results in abortions, obviously. It’s also probably not something that church considers “sex.”

  • http://junglehope.wordpress.com Lana Hope

    did he ever find out about the abortion? big jerk.

    • Sarah-Sophia

      Don’t they have a law against something like that?

  • http://lapalma-island.com Sheila Crosby

    Why do these people imagine that they have the right to control my sex life?

    They’ve been doing it for so long that we’re used to it, but that doesn’t make it right, or even sane. Take one step back and it’s bizarre. Do they have the right to chose our furniture? How about deciding what we eat for breakfast? Why is sex different?

    On the other hand, do we get to decide for them? “Nope, no sex Monday to Thursday, but I insist you do it at 8pm on Friday.”

    Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

  • http://dukesofearl.blogspot.com Joy

    Now, let’s imagine encouraging a sample of 1000 women who would otherwise be sexually active to just not have sex. Let’s imagine that three-fourths of them abstain, and the other quarter don’t. The result would be 212 pregnancies in the first year,

    and 500 divorces.

  • http://dukesofearl.blogspot.com Joy

    . Why do comparatively few American women use IUDs? In large part because they are pricey, running from $700 to over $1000 to have them put in.

    The other 3 reasons I can think of, offhand, is the lingering legacy of the Dalkon Shield (a friend’s mother was left infertile by that), the fact that if the IUD fails (for 7 of 1000 women) there is no low-risk way to proceed with the pregnancy, and the fact that the “pro-life” movement has muddied the waters to the point that some women are afraid that the IUD would actually cause an abortion.

    • victoria

      One more: until recently they were only recommended here for people who already had at least one kid, and some doctors still don’t recommend them to their childless patients. Looking back, I was an absolutely ideal IUD candidate when I was first married — monogamous, history of issues with hormonal BC options, no plans for kids in the foreseeable future — and I know my GYN never mentioned the IUD as an option for me.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, I know that for a lot of older women, the Dalkon thing is a big part of the wary eye toward IUDs. For a lot of young women, it’s that doctors won’t give it to us if we haven’t had kids, assuming we’ll change our minds some day – never mind that the IUDs are generally reversible and good for something like 5-12 years depending on the brand. I can tell you honestly that as a 22-year-old grad student that if I want kids one day, it will not be in the next five years.

      • ophelia

        I’ve heard it’s actually a technique issue on the part of the healthcare provider. They don’t like inserting them in women who haven’t had kids because it’s harder. You just need someone experienced and a day or two to recover!

      • Ashton

        Pretty much any woman who has had a child will have a uterus that is big enough for an IUD. Some women who have not had a child (particularly teens who may not be fully developed) don’t have a big enough uterus. They have to measure your uterus before inserting the IUD. I’ve read that they are trying to create a new kind that’s smaller for those women, but I haven’t heard much about that in quite a while. I have a Mirena IUD and I love it. I did have some horrible cramps for the first day after they inserted it and I had some bleeding for a little while too, but then it went back to normal periods but with a lot less blood.

  • Niemand

    Humans, like some other social animals, have sex for bonding as well as reproduction. Arguably, sex for bonding is MORE important than reproduction in humans. Of course, sex has consequences (pregnancy, STD, sticky emotional situations). Using birth control, especially condoms, being vaccinated against HPV, being honest with your partner(s), and having an abortion are all examples of ways that people deal responsibly with some of those consequences.

    • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

      Emphasis on the “sticky” part of sex (it’s really kinda gross if you think about it.)

  • Freemage

    Folks who trot out the “typical use” column of charts like the one in this article never think to apply it to abstinence. After all, if a couple says they are going to wait, but then Bobby Joe happens to look really nice in those new jeans and Sally just loses her pretty little head? That’s “typical use” of abstinence, in the same way that leaving a condom in the nightstand because you’re both too hot-and-bothered to take the time to fish it out is “typical use” of a condom (and yes, that’s part of the “typical use” failure rate, which is why it gets as high as it does).

  • TL

    Why do we even need to go through the whole exercise of inferring your conclusion? The pro-life movement these days says so right out loud. No less a conservative light than Rick Santorum, recent aspirant to the position of leader of the free world, has flatly said that he believes that sex is supposed to be about making babies, period; that sex with birth control is going against god’s plan for the world and should not be allowed. He’s not the only one espousing that philosophy, either. Google “sex should have consequences.”

    • Steve

      He literally said that contraception is “a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be”

    • Aurora

      He flat out said that if he became president, he wanted to try and make birth control illegal even for married couples (though I believe he said he would leave it to the states).

      Thankfully, he dropped out. Also thankfully, Romney lost. And further, the president simply doesn’t have that kind of power (at least, not without full backing from Congress). Why do they always make huge sweeping promises that they’ll do things the president can’t actually do? And why do people believe them?

  • Rilian

    I’m thinking of just not doing piv sex anymore, because I really really really do not want to make any babies.
    But other people can do whatever they want, and i not judge them negatively for it.

  • Twist

    I was wondering, how do those who say “just don’t have sex unless you want a baby” perceive women (myself perhaps among them) who have no desire to ever have a baby?

    I’m young and I may end up changing my mind at some stage, but right now my list of things I want to do in my life does not include “have a baby”. I have my partner and my career, I’m happy and that’s all I need. I’ve never particularly been a fan of babies or children and I resent the fact that even though it’s the 21st century society would still expect me to give up my hard-earned career to care for them and call me selfish if I didn’t. I can honestly say that unless I drastically change my mind and start really wanting to reproduce in the next ten years or so, I probably will never have a baby. I’m not the only one. Childfree women exist, we are not cold/selfish/hateful/unnatural and there is not anything wrong with us.

    Are we expected to never have sex? To miss out on this huge part of the human experience? To live in complete celibacy our entire lives? To live alone, or in a completely sexless relationship? Why should we have to choose between an entire life lived in celibacy or children we don’t want?

    I’m guessing we’re supposed to do what’s good and natural for women to do: Shake off any hopes and dreams of our own, realise that as women our One True Purpose in life is to get pregnant as often as our bodies are capable of and resign ourselves to a life as breeding machines.

    Or live celibate and alone.

    Great choices.

    • Rosie

      As a childfree woman of 40 years, I’ve often wondered the same thing. My evangelical family would claim that they don’t see motherhood as the only possible role for a woman, but they’d shame a single woman as an “old maid”, decry lesbianism as sinful, exhort a married woman to “do her duty” by her husband, point to failure rates of contraceptives (especially over the long term), call abortion murder, and so shut down pretty much any other options she might have thought she had. They just usually don’t do it all in the same breath, so they’re able to maintain the illusion that they offer “options” for women, even if they can’t exactly name any other than motherhood.

      • Kaboobie

        Ditto here, I’m a married woman in my early 40s. Neither I or my husband want kids. I was sexually active before marriage, I’m sexually active now, and I find it ludicrous that anyone would make the argument that I should simply abstain if I don’t want kids.

      • Twist

        I think that part of the problem is people assuming that what works for them works for everyone, and because they’re happy and financially/physically able to have as many kids as happen to come along during however many years of marriage, they assume everyone else should be too.

        There’s very little consideration of lifestyles that don’t fit the “heterosexual marriage with male breadwinner who earns enough so that two incomes aren’t neccessary, and woman with few ambitions beside having children who doesn’t mind spending much of her adult life pregnant and looking after newborns, without any health problems that might make this difficult” model.

      • chris buchholz

        twist
        I think perhaps it’s the opposite. At some level, people know these rules adversely affect the poor, and that the middle class and above can easily find ways around them. that is not a bug, but a feature. By making the lives of the poor as miserable as possible, middle class anti-choice women are cementing their social position.

        It’s just like the war on crime, the war on drugs, and jim crow. Over and over, the Right and the powerful play one group of lesser off people against each other, saying “well you’re not as bad off as that person”

    • Amanda

      I’m going to stick my neck out so please don’t pulverize me. It seems to me that the most loud conservative Christians are also the ones with the least compassion and most unrealistic expectations. I am a conservative evangelical Christian, I do not believe in abortion although I am on the fence as to whether the government should agree with me or not. I believe that all men and women should abstain from sex until marriage. No, that does not mean that I believe you should wait until you’re 25, to have sex. I simply believe that you should wait until you are ready to be married and have found someone to spend the rest of your life with before you have sex. If your partner won’t wait for you, they aren’t worth it. I believe that sex and marriage are both incredibly important and if you aren’t ready for one, you aren’t ready for the other. Personally, I don’t understand the logic behind waiting to get married until you’re finished with college or have established your career. To those couples who never want to have kids, that is fine, I would not expect you to abstain. I would assume that you would use contraceptive birth control. One of the huge blessings of science today is permanent birth control for those who are sure they don’t want children. If however, you did get pregnant and still did not want the baby I would hope that you would think about blessing a family unable to have children with your baby. I can say that I was never a baby person and had mixed feelings about having any children but now that I have had my daughter, I can’t imagine life without her. All that to say, those are my opinions on sex from a Christian perspective. Obviously, if you aren’t religious, you aren’t bound to any convictions other than the ones you create and I won’t bind you to mine. I just thought that I would write this as it seems there are few people commenting who understand the Christian perspective.

      • Rosie

        I can’t speak for everyone, but for myself, I understand the Christian perspective (that’s how I was raised) but disagree with it. That’s not to say that you can’t choose to live your life that way; more power to you if it works for you! But I have different ways of thinking about sex, marriage, and bearing children, and I’m quite happy to be living according to them. Quite a bit happier than when I thought I had to live your way, to be honest. I’m pro-choice about more than just abortion, you see: I’m also pro-choice about “alternative” lifestyles such as polyamory and homosexuality, even if I personally don’t have any interest in engaging in them.

      • Maggy

        You’re making the assumption that people will meet the person they plan to marry when they are 18-24. I met the love of my life at the age of 42.

      • Twist

        “If however, you did get pregnant and still did not want the baby I would hope that you would think about blessing a family unable to have children with your baby.”

        I can only speak for myself, but no, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t want to go through pregnancy and birth, as much as I don’t want to actually raise a child. Add to that the difficulty of having to explain to friends/family/coworkers/medical staff/complete strangers that I wasn’t actually
        going to keep the baby, which considering that I’m not a teenager, I’m in a stable, long term relationship etc. is something that a lot of people would have trouble understanding. Mainly though, I wouldn’t want to live the rest of my life in fear that someone would one day track me down, perhaps even to blame me for giving them up to horrible parents. I don’t want any part of it, and “just give it up for adoption” is nowhere near as easy as some people would like to believe.

      • Chloe

        I appreciate your point of view and the fact that you remain civil and fairly accepting in your comment, but whenever you make a broad statement, like that if you aren’t ready for marriage you aren’t ready for sex, you are going to fail to take into account every possible scenario. In this situation you leave out mine, which is that I am a young single woman who has had sex and I intend to keep having sex until I am an OLD single woman. As I have no intentions of ever getting married, sex is always going to be outside of marriage for me, and I am always going to need birth control to prevent both unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. I don’t want to argue about whether abortion or adoption is the greater ethical evil, so I’ll just leave it by saying marriage does not and never will have a place in my sex life, and I have to make plans, and birth control decisions, based on that fact.

    • stef

      wait until

      Menopause to start having a sexual life!

      • stef

        i mean “vaginal intercourse” in the meantime do other things with your love one!

  • Darren

    As my wise Junior High Civics teacher often said, “When I am king…”

    At the age of, oh, 15, every boy in America will be tested. We can debate the nature of these tests – academic, athletic, genetic, aesthetic, whatever. We, as a society, will determine the qualities that we value most in ourselves, and pick the best and brightest among each generation, those who best embody those qualities. Out of every thousand boys, we pick one. The other 999 receive free, mandatory, vasectomies.

    Teen pregnancy? Gone. Abortions? Gone. Genetic diseases? Gone. Hell, even ugly babies? Mostly gone.
    Guaranteed employment for one man out of a thousand. Woman can have as many children as they want, we build it into the legal system if needed. We also make sure to have a sufficient supply of various ethnic or racial groups among our 0.1%.

    Yes, it is an imposition on the freedoms of the 999 boys, but the cost is relatively low compared to the extreme benefit of no abortions, no teen pregnancies, no heritable diseases, etc. And is this imposition any more than the prohibition of contraception and/or abortion services that are advocated by 48% of the electorate?

    And besides, I paid for my own vasectomy at the age of 28, and as a single man post vasectomy… not having to wory about accidentally fathering a child was a very nice thing indeed.

  • chris buchholz

    People say “I don’t want to pay for other people to have sex” but they don’t realize, it’s a lot CHEAPER to pay for birth control than it is to pay for the births that result. Look at the skyrocketing costs of health care for women in Texas the last few years, and you can see why. When we stop trying to force others to follow our morality, costs to society go down, not up. (not just dollars, but cost in ruined lives all over the Bible Belt states)

    • Kodie

      Sex is the cheapest date too. I am not counting outside costs or financial or medical consequences. If you can’t afford to go to the movies, you can stay home and do it. If, as a society, we don’t want to subsidize the very expensive consequences of sex, than we have to think big picture here. Even religious people know idle hands are the devil’s playground, so make the movies free. It’s making the movies so prohibitive to teenagers who end up fornicating instead, you see. If you don’t want to subsidize the movies, how about the pill. Obviously.

      • Mr Pirate

        So by enabling free download of movies Pirate Bay is helping to reduce the abortion rate?

        Arrrr! ^_-

  • Stephanie

    I’m pro-life and I think you have some really good points. I never thought about the issue in this way. Are my beliefs about preventing abortion or preventing people from having sex? I’m really going to think about that. I’m wondering, though, what you think of the spread of STDs. Birth control doesn’t prevent STDs (I’m sure you realize this). They can still be spread through oral sex. What are your thoughts? Thanks:)

    • Meghan

      Yes STIs are spread through unprotected sex. There are ways to protect yourself, including oral sex (dental dams and condoms being the primary methods). STIs can also be tested for and treated. Generally this is a conversation to be had before sex. And would also affect the pro-life crowd.

  • Stephanie

    Some sti’s cannot be cured, though. And this is a huge problem among youth. They are not receiving the education they need. Is there anything good about an 8th grader having 12 partners in one year and then contracting an incurable sti? I realize not everyone will abstain from sex until marriage, but perhaps we could find a way to help 8th graders wait just a bit longer to start having sex?

    • Michael Busch

      The best way to do that is comprehensive sex ed, including education about how to have safe sex, _starting well before the kids start having sex_. Comprehensive sex ed increases the age when people first have sex, decreases rates of STD transmission (because people know what to look for and to use barriers), and decreases the rate of unplanned pregnancy (because more women use hormonal contraceptives). 8th grade is too late to start sex ed; 6th grade or even earlier would be better. I give a reference: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18155035

      Also, very few people (of any age) have that many sexual partners. And remember that married people use contraception too.

  • Caroline

    While I totally agree with you, on all points, I will note that I think that control of sex is not exclusive to religious dogma. Some people just think that since the “natural” result of sex is babies, and that is our evolutionary purpose for it, that sex should consequently “serve it’s purpose” so to speak. It’s an ignorant view that’s not necessarily dependent on religion.

  • vanessa

    Dear friends. No age gap is too wide if you both feel so right.We don’t care about the social “norm” but chemistry. Many couples with age gap work out fine and get alone splendidly. We celebrate the age gap love and May-December romance. Check out agemeet.c“o`m if you are interested in ageless relationships.

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  • Diana

    People who encourage abstinence instead of birth control or abortion obviously believe that most if not all unwanted pregnancies occur in single (slutty) women. What about the married women? Do they have only two choices: not to have sex with their husbands, or to become baby-making machines? And how would their husbands feel about the first option? My great-grandmother died at age 35 while giving birth to her thirteenth child (who also died), leaving twelve children motherless – is that what any truly compassionate society would want? I inherited her genetic disposition to become pregnant at a drop of a hat, so my husband and I decided that it was more sensible for me to be on birth control to limit our family size to what we could afford and what was better for my health. Why do I have to get dirty looks from people for that choice, or have my health plan decide not to cover my contraceptives? If the men advocating these laws were the ones having babies, there would be free contraceptives, free maternity care, free daycare!

    • stef

      And how would their husbands feel about the first option = not to good, but morals is about doing the right thing, not about doing what satisfy you more o makes you happier!

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  • Nicki

    i had my first Baby through the help of a Dr called Dr Odogbe. i have been married for 8years without a child i and my partner has went to different hospitals to do medical check up if we are okay but our result always comes out positive that we are okay, we have waited for years trying to conceive but nothing we still have no child of our own it was like i and my partner was course never to have children in life But today through the help of Dr Odogbe spell of anoitedtemple@gmail.com i became pregnant last Summer and i have given birth to a baby Boy this year, i am really happy all my sadness has been turned into unlimited joy in case you need the help of this Dr just contact him via his email address anoitedtemple@gmail.com

    Nicki Dame
    USA

  • LLB

    Show
    me a woman or young girl who can make smart choices about sex and I will
    show you a woman or young girl whose parents were not drug-addicted,
    abusive, personality-disordered or cruel, who wanted that girl and loved
    her and took good care of her and raised her with tenderness and
    appropriate supervision. I will show you parents who had enough money,
    who were not stressed by unbearable life circumstances
    like abuse in the home, death, divorce, or drive-bys. Conservative
    rantings that people should just learn not to have sex, while rooted in
    good intentions, are unrealistic, fantastical, illogical thinking.

    We do NOT live in a culture where every child gets a wholesome
    upbringing, and until we do, allowing children to be born to people who
    don’t want them, who are so messed up themselves from their own bad
    circumstances growing up that they cannot/will not love and take good
    responsibility for a baby, is just not a good solution. People, usually
    young, young people, make unsound reproductive decisions out of a great
    well of unmet need and psychological problems resulting from that need.
    Expecting them to “just say no,” just doesn’t work. Contraceptives would
    be great…but then most conservatives are against that too, and
    thumping on their Bibles while they cut every avenue of help to people
    in trouble that they can. Oh, for the day conservatives actually wake up
    and live in the real world that they, for the past 30 years, have
    largely created.

  • Jane Doe

    I’d like to congratulate you on being so brave and using your ability to perform critical thinking. You have discovered what most of ‘pro-choice’ folks have known for a long time and you did it swimming against your own tide.

    I am pro-choice but frankly, hate the terminology. Abortion is not a choice, it is an act of desperation most of the time because women know that we live in a patriacal society that does not value them or it’s children. In fact, abortion is a men’s issue. Abortion exists because men abandon their unborn babies, personally and legislatively, period.

    When I was 25, using BC I got pregnant. The pro-life movement in my city was causing a huge ruckus…in the days of clinic bombings etc. I wrote a letter to the editor of my local paper asking for someone from the PL movement to provide me with emotional support while I raised my son whose father abandoned us….responses: 0.

    You are correct. The Christian Right simply wants to control women. We terrify them….funny thing is in places where women ‘behave’ as the CR would like them to the rape stats are off the charts…..no surprise.

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