Mythbusters: #ThxBirthControl Edition

 

You may have noticed last week that #ThxBirthControl was trending on Twitter and Facebook.

Sponsored by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the #ThxBirthControl campaign had the enthusiastic support of Planned Parenthood and even some famous Teen Moms.

But many of the “facts” shared via the #ThxBirthControl hashtag were little more than myths. Here is the truth behind three of the biggest whoppers:

Myth 1: 99% of women have used birth control.

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Though liked and shared thousands of times, Washington Post showed the dishonesty behind the claim:

“The study shows that 88.2 percent of all women aged 15 to 44 who were interviewed, whether or not they had intercourse, have used contraception. That’s not the same as the claim used by advocates that “99 percent of women” overall have used birth control.

But there’s a bigger problem with this statistic.

“Contraception” refers to any method that women and men can take to prevent a pregnancy. It includes female and male sterilization, birth control pills, intrauterine devices (IUDs), emergency contraception, condoms, withdrawal method and periodic abstinence…”

Catch that? This “statistic” is based on data which places women practicing “periodic abstinence” in the “BC user” category – i.e., women who have never used a birth control drug or device in their lives!

It’s deceitful to use this false % to prop up a political argument that women want and need free access to artificial contraceptive drugs and devices. Truth is, we don’t all use ‘em- and are often happier and healthier for it.

Myth 2: Birth control prevents abortion

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While it sounds reasonable on the surface, this logic doesn’t play out. Widely available birth control and abortion drastically changes people’s attitudes toward sex and marriage, and abortion rates went up as BC use became widespread. The changing sexual culture led women to have more sex outside of marriage, and non-marital pregnancies are correlated with a higher abortion rate (83% of women getting abortions are unmarried).

This “risk compensation” response didn’t merely shift cultural expectations about non-marital sex,  it continues to mislead many women into believing BC is fail-proof in preventing pregnancy. According to the National Abortion Federation, half of women getting abortions were using contraception the month they became pregnant. The pro-choice, pro-BC group acknowledges that “no contraceptive method prevents pregnancy 100% of the time…considering that most women are fertile for over 30 years, and that birth control is not perfect, the likelihood of having one or two unintended pregnancies is very high.”

Of course, other factors in addition to widely-available contraception can also influence the abortion rate. But it’s inaccurate to insist that simply “more contraception” will lead to fewer abortions and non-marital pregnancies.

Myth #3: Only male misogynists dislike birth control.

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Plenty of women (including WSFT members) took to social media to explain why they were, well, not-so-thankful for birth control. Using the #thxbirthcontrol hashtag, women sarcastically “thanked” BC for a host of physical and social ills.

Some said BC gave them significant health problems, including blood clots and depression:

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Other women said BC fuels unhealthy sexual expectations:

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One woman acknowledged that birth control was a part of her experience with abuse:

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No one speaks for all women about birth control. Women can, and are, speaking for themselves about what does (and does not) empower their health, success and happiness.

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