Monday, 11 April 2011

Myth-Busting Monday: 'If everyone had access to birth control and all the methods were 100% effective, all pregnancies would be wanted'

This week we're borrowing another myth from the brilliant Scarleteen article How to (un)Pack for a Real Discussion About Abortion. Thanks again to Heather Corinna at Scarleteen for giving us permission to reproduce this extract entitled: 'If everyone had access to birth control and all the methods we had were 100% effective, all pregnancies would be wanted and we would have no abortions'.

While some women have very firm and consistent feelings before and during the whole of a pregnancy that a pregnancy is wanted, not everyone feels that way. Given how much pressure expectant mothers are under to express nothing but joy about a pregnancy, we can’t even accurately say how many women have mixed or mutable feelings: we just don’t live in a world yet which allows women that kind of honesty around pregnancy.

Even if every wanted pregnancy remained wanted, we can be certain that many women would still want and need abortion. Life doesn’t just stay put while we’re pregnant, so our circumstances can always change, and some of those changes can seriously alter our plans, previous wants and needs or the status of our pregnancy. In fact, I think it’s pretty strange to talk about a process which is about nothing but constant change – for a developing, as well as for a pregnant woman – as if it could be unchanging.

That said, birth control access and efficacy is a huge issue, and given that in America alone, nearly half of all pregnancies which end in abortion are unintended, we know that lack of access to methods, not knowing how to use methods properly or having a lack of cooperation around contraception in sexual partnerships and the level of effectiveness methods provide does very much contribute to more abortion than we would see otherwise. Those earnestly looking to help reduce the number of abortions drastically should absolutely be working to increase birth control access, awareness and the development of reliable methods of contraception, since this is the one thing we know would make a huge difference which does not in any way diminish or remove women's reproductive rights.

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