losing ground

With laws and political divisions becoming increasingly extreme, the role of contraceptive use in sexual encounters is precarious. School education programs and public health policy groups work to encourage contraceptive use in all sexual encounters. Alarmingly these people aren’t just fighting an uphill battle against ignorance, but also have to deal with special interest groups that are not only discouraging safer sex education programs, but also fighting for the instigation of pro-life policies – policies that could succeed in the eventual elimination of certain contraceptive options.

There have been recent debates in the news regarding the future of abortion in some states. Often this issue comes up in coordination with election years and this year seems no different. We have seen debates on this hot topic arise cyclically and fade after one side or the other achieves some small victory that usually leaves the issue seemingly unchanged.  As Wendy Simonds points out in her piece (Simonds p 427), this debate is a “rhetorical battle” consisting of word manipulation and moral mud slinging. In what seems to be an increasingly extreme battle of the pro-life vs. pro-choice contingencies, choosing sides has suddenly become an even more reflective issue. The fight for the right to abort could have huge consequences in states like Mississippi where a new abortion bill is on the floor. The phrasing of this bill that would outlaw abortion could also be a slippery downhill slide to the elimination of other birth control methods including the birth control pill and intrauterine devices (IUDs). By defining the beginning of life as the moment sperm meets egg, this law would basically instigate the right of every potential fetus to be born, outlawing the methods that prevent implantation in the uterus (Papas). Other states, including Oklahoma and Virginia have passed some forms of this type of law and additionally have instigated the use of invasive transvaginal ultrasounds in women who seek out an abortion (Favate)

As we are all very aware, there are two sides to this issue and two predominant parties in our government. As the issue grows, the battles are becoming bigger and the effects of success by the pro-life, anti-abortion side of this argument have actually become noticeable. Before it was always the wording of some little document that some people buzzed over, but the general public ignored. Now the public, or at least half of it, should finally be paying attention. In my opinion we have arrived to a point of regression and women are the ones whose rights are being taken away.

The motivation behind these changes is not just the simple moral code of our leaders. They are the consequence of the fight to maintain, or in some places regain, the hetero-normative lifestyle. This country is predominantly lead by straight, married, well educated men who have devoted their lives in part to maintaining their squeaky clean exterior. These men are trying to maintain the expected life of a successful American man. What will happen to them however, if the number of non-married couples who are expecting a child increases? What will happen to them if more people decide to join the sexually liberated?



Simonds, Wendy. “From Contraception to Abortion: A Moral Continuum”

Pappas, Stephanie. “Mississippi’s ‘Personhood’ Law Could Outlaw Birth Control” Live Science. November 7, 2011 http://www.livescience.com/16917-mississippi-personhood-birth-control.html

Favate, Sam. “Virginia House Passes Bills Restricting Abortion” The Wall Street Journal. February 16, 2012 http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2012/02/16/virginia-house-passes-bills-restricting-abortion/

2 thoughts on “losing ground

  1. Jthinks: Great job juxtaposing our class readings with contemporary articles on the issues of birth control and abortion. During this election season we have heard Barack Obama say that men (read: politicians) should not be making decisions about what to do with women’s bodies. And while I do think it is important that women have autonomy over their own bodies, I wonder about this statement. What are we saying if we say that “abortion” “reproductive rights” and “birth control” are just women’s issues. Women are getting pregnant by men, right? Or at least men’s sperm? Where should men’s voices and ideas come in to this discourse?

  2. I don’t think it’s entirely a women’s issue, but I think that we are predominantly represented by men in the government so for now I think it’s a good thing women are making a point to say it should be them whose opinions are most important.
    Men are definitely an important part of the equation. Women can’t get pregnant without them. Yet men, unlike women, are affected by unplanned pregnancies in various ways.
    For the purposes of determining their input, I’ll divide men in three groups.
    The husbands or committed partners should be heard. They are entitled to have an opinion and to have it matter. There’s a caveat though. A happy couple should communicate and make such a huge decision together, but it is still the woman’s choice, so she should never have to require his permission.
    The new relationship or casual dating couple requires far less consideration. Input from the man should be encouraged, but he shouldn’t be pushing for a certain outcome. He probably doesn’t know his partner well enough to predict how she will handle such a big decision.
    Finally, the opinion of ‘random hook up guy’ or worse, ‘guy who should be in prison’ doesn’t matter. He should still be informed whether or not he is going to be the father of a child, but that should be the extent of his input.
    Obviously there are gray areas, especially in relationships. This issue is something I have considered at length. It is significant to me personally because it was the source of a huge divide in my family. It is heart wrenching to know that I was robbed of another baby in the family, but ultimately it was the choice of the woman involved to go through with her abortion despite the wishes of her husband and if I were ever faced with such a decision I would want that choice to be mine, even if I believe I would make a different choice.

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