December 6, 2023

Saving Birth Control for the 99%

1926 US advertisement. "Birth Control"

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From the Ms. Magazine blog Twitter feed:

“Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended–how would making birth control less available solve this problem?”

There are some interesting points to this discussion and WNK would love to hear from our readers. Why should we pay for contraception for those who can’t afford it? Why should contraception be available and inexpensive? Would you rather pay for children that people can’t afford? Do you think people should be more responsible in making family planning choices?

“Contraception obviously is a deeply held value by American women. But the fact that in the United States a startling half of all pregnancies are unintended makes clear that birth control is used only sporadically by some. There are a number of reasons why this is so, but a chief one is that so many women cannot afford contraception, especially the most expensive—and most effective–methods, such as birth control pills, and long lasting reversible contraception, for example, the newer (and far safer) models of IUDs (intrauterine devices). In short, the same economic disparities that pervade every other area of American life manifest here as well: poor women depend on publicly-funded programs for their contraceptive services, but, according to the Guttmacher Institute, only a little more than half of the 17 million women who need these services currently receive them.”

Check out the rest of the article here.


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Viagra 1 Birth Control 0

Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral contraceptive...

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Conservative groups including religious colleges and hospitals continue to pressure the Obama White House to give them exemptions from providing hormonal contraceptives to their employees and students. But the interesting fact is:

“The Guttmacher Institute analyzed US Government data and found that 14% of adult women and one-third of teenagers who use oral contraception are on it for non-birth control reasons. Some use it to manage menstrual symptoms like cramps and heavy periods, others use it to help clear up their skin. About half of the teens who use the pill for non-contraceptive reasons have never even had sex— but all of them are sinners who are going straight to hell!” (Jezebel)

And insurance companies continue to pay for Viagra for medical reasons but not birth control. Where is the fairness in that? Bill O’Reilly famously said that birth control is not a medical condition. He’s kind of right, but that’s like saying Viagra is not a medical condition. It’s not. The very real medical conditions that birth control prevent include: acne, ovarian cysts, irregular menstruation, PMS, etc. I promised I wouldn’t get political on this blog but this is about fairness and if I have to keep watching stupid erectile dysfunction commercials on television I going to scream about inequality and sexism in 2011. Maybe if I had more affordable birth control I wouldn’t be so PMSy.

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Vasa Deferentia Interrupta

Diagrama sobre a vasectomia. Baseado em Illu r...

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I have brought a kit from to check my sexual wellness before. But only few days before I came to know that I undergo vasectomy. “You didn’t know I’d had a vasectomy?”

“Uhm, no, why would I have known?”

“I thought I told you… Anyway, no biggie. But it does hurt!”

“You mean they didn’t use any anesthetic?”

“Of course they did, but it still hurts. The doc told me it’d feel like a donkey kicked me in the balls. He was right.”

“After the operation?”

“During the operation. After the first snip, I said, ‘Oh, that’s not so bad. I can hardly feel it.’ ‘You will,’ the doc said. ‘Wait for number two…'”

“Why would the second snip be any worse than the first?”

“Your body knows, doesn’t want you snipping your tackle. The second? That’s your body’s last chance, and it goes down fighting!”

“So the doc was right?”

“You can’t imagine. Literally like a donkey kicked me in the nads!”

“How long did the pain last? Days? Weeks?”

“No, it was quick. A few minutes. Felt great the next day.”

We’d just enjoyed a spectacular dinner with our brides, and we were walking out to the parking lot to bring the cars around. We’ve known each other our entire lives, and yet I had no clue that my friend had voluntarily severed his vasa deferentia.

Vasectomies, even when casually mentioned over rack of lamb and fine wine, prompt a visceral shudder in me. Think of the feeling when someone runs their finger nails over a chalk board and then amp it up a notch or ten. Never had a vasectomy. Never contemplated one. But something primordial quivers when the word is mentioned.

And here was one of my closest earthly mates tossing it out casually, calmly, distractedly while explaining that they seriously were stopping at two kids.

“You never know,” I pushed. “Plenty of surprises born every day.”

“Oh, we know,” my friend volleyed, “I made sure of that!”

I was flabbergasted. But I waited until after dinner to follow up. During our walk to the parking lot he explained the logic.

His bride had wanted to have at least three or four children. He was adamant about stopping after two. While recovering from the birth of her second perfect daughter, his wife mentioned that two seemed like enough. He raced out that very same day and re-plumbed his tackle before she could change her mind.

It struck me as I drove around in the drizzling rain to retrieve my bride that my friend who’d always wanted kids and now had two lovely daughters had opted to alter his body to ensure that additional childbearing was impossible. I — who’d never wished or intended to have children — was horrified at the very prospect of having a vasectomy despite the fact that it would ensure my childfree choice. One more mystery to unravel.

It’s not the donkey kick that troubles me. It’s not even the quasi permanence of the operation. Or even the surgical procedure which would be a giant leap for a guy who still acts like a baby when I get a flu shot…

Maybe it’s fear or hubris, tampering voluntarily, unnecessarily with my body for the sake of convenience. I feel damned fortunate to be healthy, and I’d hate to risk upsetting the balance with elective biological tinkering.

And yet the explanation given by my buddy made sense. Not quite childfree, but child-no-more! What a complicated conversation kids represent, and what a simple solution a pair of snips and knots must have represented.