At WSFT, we heartily agree with the organizers of World Contraception Day that “young people should make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health.”
We do NOT think the way to do this is to blindly celebrate and encourage provision of more contraception, without considering all of its individual and social ramifications.
So to aid in the mission of awareness and education, here are three reasons why we shouldn’t be spreading more contraception across the globe:
- First, women around the world actually don’t want more contraception. The Economist found that “access to birth control is seldom much of an issue” in the countries they polled in a recent study. Instead, most people actually want more kids than they will have.
- Second, women around the world are mentally and physically uncomfortable with contraception (over 50% stop within two years, mostly due to “method related concerns” like prolonged bleeding, stomachaches and pain).
- Contraception creates new social problems in a culture—whether you live in Britain, Belize, or Botswana.
This is because contraception and abortion make the inherently risky activity of sex look “consequence free”. When people imagine that sex can purposefully be separated from pregnancy, social pressure against premarital sex weakens. Men can demand casual, uncommitted sex, creating a “hookup culture” which women don’t actually like—and which puts them at regular risk for pregnancy, STDs, and emotional turmoil.
The hookup culture, aka “sexual marketplace”, enabled by increased contraception access actually makes non-marital pregnancy rates go up, not down. The problem contraception is supposed to fix on an individual level never lives up to its promise on a social level, and in fact creates serious negative consequences for everyone.
It begs the question: why are we trying to expand the global reach of contraception even further?
Women would benefit a lot more if the groups that organized World Contraception Day instead celebrated policies that ensured women get what they really want and need: to find and sustain healthy marriage and work that pays a family wage, to have quality healthcare, and the freedom and flexibility to raise their children without being alone, or economically stressed.