Against control condemnations
Deborah Cronin | Tuesday, February 7, 2012
In your Feb. 6 Letter to the Editor (“Contraceptives and control”), you make several arguments I wish to counter. First, you state that the problems of domestic violence and rape cannot be solved by contraceptives and that “If women are really so afraid of being assaulted … our society suffers from a far greater problem than a lack of reproductive choice.” Unfortunately, our society does suffer from that greater problem. Certainly, our ultimate goal must be eliminating sexual and physical violence against women, but until we are able to do so, the use of contraceptives by women who live in the constant fear you seem so skeptical of is entirely warranted.
The next point I take issue with is your strong support of NFP in place of other forms of contraception. First, while researchers at Heidelberg did find that NFP is as effective as oral contraceptives, others have found that it’s not. A review of 139 birth-control-efficacy studies found that NFP lead to at least twice as many pregnancies in a year as the pill. You also state that NFP, unlike other contraceptives, “does not fundamentally change the nature of the sexual act by chemically or mechanically eliminating one of its key functions.” You’re correct, but what users of NFP are doing is temporally eliminating that key function by having sex only when it is physically impossible for the woman to become pregnant. Why temporally impeding sperm is any different than mechanically or chemically impeding them is beyond me.
Finally, I take issue with your claim that the only reason a woman “needs” birth-control is so she can be have sex with whomever, whenever. While I fully respect a woman’s right to embrace her own sexual freedom, I would like to point out that many women use contraceptives for medical reasons. So, until you find yourself in a ball on the floor in debilitating pain every month, or until you’ve experienced the sickening feeling of realizing your three-month-late period has finally started during class, I suggest you avoid making sweeping generalizations about who uses contraception and for what reasons.