Public health efforts are often intimately tied to many other aspects of society. The containment of AIDS has to deal with politics, religion, sexuality, and many other cultural factors. Thus, efforts to try and curb the proliferation need to be likewise thought out in these complex contexts. Jenny Higgins notes how the prevalent women vulnerability model has benefits but also some downsides. Most notably its lack of representing the role of the heterosexual male in the role AIDS transmission and prevention .
Recent high profile comments on sexual health, specifically abortion and birth control, have led to more discussion of this hotly debated topic. The comments I am referring to are Representative Todd Akin’s statements about legitimate rape and Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s remarks on God’s intentions following a rape. Akin goes on to say that there should be repercussions of legitimate rape and that the “punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child”. Both comments broadly neglect the role of the woman in this horrific circumstance. These comments can most certainly be considered insensitive and rude, but also detail the vast range of beliefs on the topic.
As a person of a scientific background, I believe the base of the discussion comes back to the determination of when life begins. The fusion of the sperm and egg does in fact represent the start of a new life form but with some considerations. This life form cannot survive on its own and is still completely dependent on the mother for the entire pregnancy. Therefore, in my singular opinion, the functional definition of the beginning of a new life should be limited to the birth of the child. Before this point, I think considerations on the mother’s part about whether to support or abort life are the most important factors.
As the authors of Speaking of Sexuality highlight in their coverage of sexual communication and the effects alcohol has on the matter, a person’s beliefs on contraception and abortion are often tied to many other factors. Societal factors such as gender roles, sexuality, religion, family upbringing, and education all contribute to a person’s belief on sexual health.
Within an American society founded upon freedom and embracing the benefits of diversity, I believe individual beliefs about reproduction cannot be forced onto others. Ultimately it must be the decision of the individual or couple about what methods they deem morally acceptable and realistically responsible. For this to occur, contraceptive methods and abortive procedures must be within reach in certain circumstances. Educational measures must also be taken to inform people about such services so that they may be able to make a rational, justified decision.
I think that as we witness the current and likely future rejection of past gender roles within the heterosexual so too will we see a change in the outlook on reproductive health. In order to give women the same degree of sexual freedom that men traditionally have, they will need the health related mechanisms to be able to control the results. With considerations such a career and family planning, the benefits of controlling the large commitment of pregnancy are important. Ultimately the decision should come down to the individual rather than a set base of rules.