I was speaking to someone the other day who was reminiscing about the 60's. Then she started to laugh about how we're back to the same discussion* about birth control that we were then. She shook her head, unable to imagine that anyone in their right mind would still be concerned about this or see it as an "issue". Of course women should all have birth control, what an archaic idea that there should be a question! She laughed. It was a little awkward pause in the conversation when I didn't laugh. I was at work and couldn't really comment. I didn't ignore her, but I just made little sounds and kept my mouth shut. I saw brief confusion in her eyes as to why I wasn't responding, but I don't know that she made the connection that I disagreed with her. In her eyes, I am an educated, professional woman. That should automatically mean that I should be grateful for the benefits of birth control in my life, right?
If she really wanted to know, I could have told her that birth control has no place in my life, and I'm so thankful that it doesn't.
Reasons that I am grateful that my parents and I are in the 2% of Catholics that do not now and have never used birth control:
1) I'm alive.
My older brother and I are Irish twins. I always took great delight in the 4 days that we were the "same age" growing up. I don't think my parents planned on having their second child only 361 days after their first, but lucky for me they didn't jump into birth control right after the birth of my brother. If they had spaced their second one as (probably) planned, I wouldn't be here.
2) My younger brother exists.
I was 18 years old when my younger brother was born. My older brother was already in college. We did have 3 younger sisters (the youngest of whom was only 4), but you might guess that my brother wasn't planned by my parents. But if you tell me that my younger brother was an accident, I will come through the screen and punch you in the face. He was certainly a surprise for my parents, but he was no accident. Our family would not be complete without him. I thank God that He knew this, and I thank God and my parents that my parents left it up to Him.
3) I have not been taking birth control for an extended period.
I have heard bad things about taking BC for more than 4 years. In an oh-so-brief search of drug side effects and reactions, I could not find anything specific referring to this, nor could I find anything that seemed to show that the one form of BC I looked up caused any increased risk of cancer. Nonetheless, if they've stopped using artificial hormones so much for menopausal women because of the possible risks (like increased risk of cancer), it seems like a problem I would like to stay away from. Furthermore, any time you take a drug over an extended period, you are increasing your risk of side effects. Now, granted, NSAIDs (like ibuprofen and such) have just as scary a list as BC does. But I also try to avoid taking NSAIDs more than necessary.
I am not arguing that it should never be taken for any reason. There are medical reasons for these drugs. Just as I take NSAIDs when needed but with caution, I would expect the same to apply for BC. I have no desire to jump on the scare tactic bandwagon. However, I know many people that avoid taking unnecessary medications (as well as meat with hormones) to avoid excessive side effects. I am the same way, and BC is definitely one that I am happy to have skipped.
4) Increased risk of blood clots.
Now, I know this kind of falls under the previous one, but in my case it's different. There is something that is called Factor V Leiden that increases your risk of blood clots. I have never been tested for it, but I may have it. It has been found in my family, and one of my cousins nearly died during pregnancy due to complications of it. If I do have this, I would be at an even greater risk than the general population of having a blood clot as a result of the combination of the two. We did not realize this risk until I was 25, which means that if I had started at 18 taking BC, I could have been taking it for 7 years with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism.
5) Increased risk of STI's.
Taking birth control implies that you want to have sex without getting pregnant. Taking it implies on some level that you assume you are going to have sex (again, unless you are taking it for medical reasons), and in the current hook up culture that typically means with multiple partners. Seeing as how I have been single for so long, that would probably increase my number if I were to fall in line with the current expected behaviors.
6) I understand sex (or at least can define it).
Well, yes. You could argue that as a single person I don't have the best understanding. Oh, wait, let me clarify: as a single person not living out the hook up culture. But hear me out. I remember being dumbfounded one day when a friend of mine told me that she and her friends had had a discussion where they were trying to define sex. They couldn't. You see, there are a lot of different things that they qualified as sex because they didn't consider the reproductive aspect of sex to be a defining part of it.
7) My happiness is not dependent on sex.
It seems to me that part of the problem with the assumption that all women need to have easy access to birth control is that we should all be able to have sex whenever and with whomever without worry. Apparently because this is supposed to make us happier, but having observed friends, I would have to say I'm happier without the pressure to "put out" and "perform well". This doesn't seem to be as much of an issue with my friends who are in established relationships (whether married or not). I know that there are times as a single person that I have questioned my worth. Based on the feelings I had then, I guarantee you I would have turned to sex for answers and self worth. According to discussions that I have had with friends, I would have found brokenness instead. Instead, I was forced to dig deeper and as a result, found healing.
I know there are many different experiences out there. This is mine. For the sake of my life, my health and my happiness, I am glad that I have never used birth control.
Head over to Jen's for more (quicker) Quick Takes!
Have a fantastic weekend!
*It's really not the same discussion. Then it was about whether it is right or wrong. Now it is about whether those that believe it is wrong according to their religion should be forced to provide it anyway. It's about freedom of religion and not freedom to have birth control.