It boggles my mind when I hear some of the common arguments against birth control and abortion, mainly because the US is such a bad place to be a mother if you are not among the wealthy middle class or higher (see the article). If you fall anywhere near or below the poverty line, it’s very hard to retain your job, financial stability, and even get health coverage.
These are some of the most common anti-reproductive choice arguments that are reflected repeatedly in public sentiment and sometimes even in US law:
“Birth control is like abortion and/or unhealthy, so you shouldn’t use it.” Both are largely untrue, and yet these arguments are still being used every single day to pressure women into not being able to effectively plan their families. There are many different birth control methods; it’s important to research them and choose the best and healthiest option for you specifically (for example, I use a low-hormone method). Telling women it’s all bad is deceitful and harmful.
“If you’re having sex, you should be ready to have a baby.” This is incredibly judgmental and unrealistic. Sex is not just for procreation, it’s also for intimacy and pleasure; hence infertile and elderly couples still enjoy it. Having sex is NOT a contract for a woman to have a baby. Some women don’t want kids or just can’t afford them; should they be forced to live like nuns? I have sex because I love my husband, not because we want kids.
“A baby is a blessing.” To some people having a baby IS a great blessing- to others, becoming pregnant is a very stressful, scary experience, especially if they lose their job and their home because of finances. Having a child is a HUGE responsibility- one that should never be forced on anyone. Even if they intend to give the baby up for adoption, they still have to go through the incredibly difficult pregnancy and birth ordeal. And given the appalling rising stats of mother mortality rates in the USA, women should choose carefully.
“Abortion is murder so it should be illegal.” That’s personal opinion- every women needs to make her own decision in this matter. This is a huge can of worms that I’ve discussed many times before, so I won’t be debating the morality of abortion in this blog’s comments.
“Abortion should never be used as birth control.” Abortions are much less pleasant than using birth control. If you talk to women that get abortions, you’ll find that “using it as a form of birth control” isn’t usually how most of them would describe it. This makes it sound like most women are purposefully not using other contraception methods and then use abortion regularly in place of contraception.
We live in a culture where women are not taught proper sex education in many states (some states had to be legally required to even discuss the basics of contraception and they still insist on teaching it improperly), they constantly hear that birth control is dangerous (hormonal) or immoral (all methods) from very vocal anti-birth control groups, and even getting birth control is hard for many low-income women or undocumented women. So it’s no wonder why the US has such a high rate of teen and unwanted pregnancies- women and teen girls hear conflicting information and misinformation every day, and they are not always aware of safe sexual practices. But even if they were aware- birth control and condoms do occasionally fail (especially if they don’t use them 100% correctly due to shoddy sex education), get forgotten that one time, they may have been raped or felt pressured into having sex to fit in, their situation changed for the worse after getting pregnant, etc. And you know what? Sometimes smart women just get pregnant and they don’t want to have a baby. And that’s ok. Again, having sex is not a contract to become pregnant.
Oh, you had a baby you can’t afford? Why didn’t you use birth control or keep your legs closed if you couldn’t afford to have kids right now? The “logic” behind this is baffling and frustrating. Low-income women who have kids are demonized regularly by the media and by individuals. They are considered leeches on the system if they draw welfare/food stamps or their kids need school lunches, called bad parents if they can’t provide for their children, and are called bad parents if they weren’t ready to have kids and it now shows in their lack of parenting skills. They can’t win!
I have talked to a LOT of people about this issue, and I’ve significantly toned down the way that many of these points are often made… words like “slut”, “whore”, “leecher”, “bitch who couldn’t keep her legs closed”, and other demeaning descriptions are unfortunately all too common when referring to women who make reproductive choices that these judgmental people don’t agree with.