Though many opposed to birth control use cling to the misconception that women who use it are more “promiscuous” than those who do not, a recent survey in defense of contraceptives proves this is not the case.
But the fact that such surveys are necessary to challenge continuing beliefs is troubling.
The survey, called the Contraceptive Choice Project, challenges the negative stigma assumed of women using birth control. The survey found that women using no-cost contraceptive methods are not more likely to have multiple sexual partners in a single month than they would without them. Participants included 9,256 women and teenage girls who received birth control for a year and were asked to complete a survey before starting, six months after receiving it and again at 12 months.
The survey’s main purpose was to observe factors associated with unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, such as having many partners and the frequency of sex. Yet, focusing on these aspects emphasizes the role of birth control as a moral or religious concern.
In 2012, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh demeaned a Georgetown University student who spoke out against the school’s refusal to cover contraception for its female students, calling her a “slut” and said she “wants to be paid to have sex.”
Though his beliefs are on the extreme side, it is clear that even two years later the social outlook on birth control has not made much progress if a study, even by implication, needs to justify a woman’s use of contraception.
A study is not necessary to
determine if a woman’s decision-making is altered when using any method of birth control. While its findings are in favor of the availability of birth control, the goals of the project were still constrained within the expectations of those who fear a woman’s control of her sexual health will lead to more sex, pregnancies, abortions and STDs.
The survey’s results determined that a majority of women did not have more sexual partners and that there was no increase in STDs when using birth control. However, defending contraceptive use by proving it does not make women more promiscuous doesn’t promote how birth control is beneficial to women. Instead, it soothes those concerned with women having control of their bodies.
While STDs are certainly part of the conversation, since all contraceptive methods do not prevent them, a woman’s frequency of intercourse or how many partners she chooses to have are irrelevant.
The Affordable Care Act provides no-cost birth control through employee health plans and prescriptions, which indicate progression in the availability of birth control for women and recognizes it as a health issue. However, businesses such as Hobby Lobby and Pennsylvania woodworking business Conestoga Wood choose to make it a religious matter in arguing that it violates religious freedom.
Because birth control is a matter of women’s health, what calls for more discussion is how the wider availability of contraceptives allows women to have control of whether they want to become pregnant and how it provides them with greater stability in making uninterrupted life and career choices.
Concern about whether birth control will change a woman’s
sexual choices not only ignores these benefits, but is also a
feeble way to approach the issue of
Isabelle Cavazos is a sophomore majoring in English.