No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother. ~ Margaret Sanger
By Wendy Taylor, Vermillion South Dakota
There is a difference between birth control and contraceptives. Maybe it’s a fine line, but that line could be where the whole political issue lies. My opinion is that birth control is sort of a misnomer. The definition of “birth” as a verb is simply “to bring forth.” I think the majority of us can see for ourselves what the definition of “control” is.
Once a woman is pregnant (no matter when you define life as beginning), the fetus or baby is ‘brought forth.’ There are only a few differences in how: spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), medical abortion, vaginal birth, or Caesarean birth. Of these, only one is really in the woman’s control. I have given birth to three beautiful children and had two spontaneous abortions. In each case, I technically “birthed.” What I lacked was “control.” There’s not much control to birth—no matter what those birthing classes say. I breathed and pushed and so on. Guess what? It still hurt. It still followed the course Mother Nature has dictated for millennia. And I was lucky enough that it still had my desired result—a living baby for me to raise and love. The two miscarriages? There was nothing I could have done differently. Nothing I did brought them on. Nothing I, or my doctor did prevented or stopped them.
The only thing I might have done differently was to prevent the pregnancies in the first place. Which is all about “contraceptives” and “contraception.” The origin of “contraception” is simply “contra” (against) & “conception” (impregnation) merged. The definition is merely “the deliberate prevention of impregnation or conception.” The simplest purpose of contraception is to get the control prior to birth becoming an issue.
I am aware it is a fine line. In fact, it’s valid to point out how closely the two are related. I know the argument for contraception is all about controlling when birth takes place in a woman’s life. I do understand that. I know I’m being nitpicky about my definitions and calling contraceptives ‘birth control.’ However, I honestly think that is part of the problem in this war against women (and it is a war). Many contraceptives do far more for women than simply allow her some freedom to choose when or if she becomes pregnant and births a child.
Many options for contraception also alleviate symptoms of PMS and cramps as well as regulating a woman’s cycle. Men simply do not understand these things. Men do not understand how debilitating menstrual cramps can sometimes be. Men do not truly suffer from PMS—though I freely admit I did my best to make every man in my life suffer whenever I was dealing with it. It is also worth noting that contraceptive options such as low-estrogen pills are sometimes prescribed to women who are in menopause to help alleviate some of their suffering.
Contraceptives are preventative medications and preventative health care for women. They are more than simply “birth control.” The fact that so many want to refer to it as birth control and spout off about it being a license to ‘do things’ are doing so because of the fine line I mentioned earlier. They focus on the ‘birth’ aspect for many reasons, but one of them is because they know what I have already said: once a woman is pregnant, very little about the birth is in her control. And if that is naturally not really in her control, then she shouldn’t have any control at all. Why? Because even nature doesn’t put a woman in control of her own body. Nature decides when or if she ovulates, menstruates, gives birth, and goes through menopause. If that is how women are created, then it must be meant for them to not have any control over their bodies except for what they can exert with their minds and strength of will.
This is why I think “birth control” is a misnomer and part of the problem. I don’t disagree with the fact that contraceptives should be able to be called by the name and not have any problems. However, I have learned over the years that I have to think like my enemy in order to get ahead sometimes. In the case of birth control options, I really do think it all boils down to this fine line. Which is really just a bunch of drowning politicians and regressives grasping at straws to try to keep long-dead problems alive.