Abortion is one of the most controversial, divisive, and emotionally charged social issues in modern society. Both sides of the spectrum are guilty of not listening to the other and often demonize each other.
Most pro-choice people aren’t solely “pro-abortion,” and most pro-life people aren’t screaming at women outside abortion clinics. There’s more common ground than people realize, and I know this for a fact because I’ve been on both sides of the issue.
However, there’s one thing that I truly believe can bring most of us together. In 1992, President Bill Clinton said abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” In this article, we will be focusing on the “rare” aspect of Clinton’s statement and how our culture has abandoned that sentiment. Abortion rates have been rising, which begs the question: With so many birth control methods available today, shouldn't we be seeing lower abortion rates?
The Rise of Abortion and Abortion Access
As abortion rates increase, so do the profits. Last year, Planned Parenthood made over a billion dollars in profit, and it's estimated that up to 95% of their pregnancy services are abortions. Organizations like Planned Parenthood spend a significant amount of time focused on fighting for abortion access rather than preventing pregnancy in the first place. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rates of the abortion pill and the use of virtual abortion services have also risen.
Last year, Planned Parenthood made over a billion dollars in profit.
We're not here to discuss the possible medical or psychological dangers of remote abortion access or even the dangers of abortions provided in a clinic. We're here to ask, what's really in the best interest of women's health? Feminists and abortion advocates fight almost any law put in place to restrict abortion, but there seems to be much less fighting to make sure women have a good education about birth control, safe sex, and how to make good decisions about their bodies. It seems like most activists are only concerned about what happens to the women after she becomes pregnant, not before.
There Are So Many Options for Birth Control Now, So Why Aren't We Using Them?
Obviously abstinence is the only way to entirely prevent an unplanned pregnancy, but it's probably not a realistic method for many women. Thankfully, nowadays, birth control is much more than just popping a pill every day. There are many other methods, some hormone-free and some completely natural. One we tend to forget is condom use. According to the CDC, male condoms have an 87% success rate. Since it’s not 100% guaranteed to work, it’s important to use another method along with condoms. However, condom use among Millennials is decreasing.
Why are we ignoring one of the easiest ways to prevent an unwanted pregnancy – the condom?
According to a recent survey by Cosmopolitan and Power to Decide, the top three reasons why fewer 18 to 34 year olds are using condoms are that they aren’t worried about STDs, “my partner didn’t insist we use one,” and “I hate throwing them away.”
If throwing away a condom grosses you out, then you’re not mature enough to be having sex.
These reasons are, frankly, ridiculous. Pregnancy can still occur if you and your partner are free of STDs. If a guy insists on not using a condom or says he hates to throw them away, run as far away from him as you can. He’s obviously immature, irresponsible, and not worthy of your time. The survey also said that women are more likely to hate throwing away condoms than men. If throwing away a condom grosses you out, then you’re not mature enough to be having sex.
There are natural options besides the pill too.
There are non-hormonal birth control methods like a diaphragm or a copper IUD (which still carries a risk of heavy metal poisoning). Additionally, there are all-natural and side-effect free birth control methods that are often overlooked, but which can be just as effective as the pill when used correctly. These natural methods are known as Fertility Awareness-Based Methods (FABM), and they can be up to 99% effective.
All-natural and side-effect free birth control methods are just as effective as the pill when used correctly.
Real Women's Empowerment Means Knowing about Your Body
It's not clear when the abortion debate switched from "safe, legal, and rare," to "anytime, anywhere." Objectively speaking, not becoming pregnant with an unwanted pregnancy in the first place is the best route for women's health. So it's very confusing to see the same women who claim they're fighting for women's reproductive health to then promote medical procedures that are rarely medically necessary and almost entirely preventable through the use of birth control. Shouldn't the increasing number of birth control methods mean fewer abortions, not more?
It's time that women started reclaiming their bodies from the abortion narrative. With so many birth control methods available, let's start teaching young women that learning about their cycles, taking control of their sex lives, and learning to prevent pregnancy while they want to is what's empowering. We shouldn't feel helpless about what's happening with our bodies and that starts with educating ourselves about birth control, safe sex, and how our cycles really work. That way, we're equally prepared for both preventing pregnancy and knowing about our fertility when (or if) we're ready to have a baby.
Today's women have the most birth control options than any woman before them, but we're still seeing abortion numbers rise. Maybe it's time to shift the conversation from abortion access to the underlying issue of why so many women are still unable to prevent unwanted pregnancy. If the real goal is to control our reproductive health, then that has to start with learning about our bodies and taking control of our sex lives.