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June 29, 2010
Birth Control Mentality: Looking back at 50 years of the Pill (Part 1)
By Michelle Bauman *

By Michelle Bauman *

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill in America. To celebrate this occasion, Planned Parenthood has launched a website for people to leave comments in tribute to how “the Pill” has changed their lives for the better.

But while the site is intended to celebrate and encourage widespread use of the Pill, the actual comments confirm ideas that birth control proponents try to deny. Comment after comment provides evidence that contraception encourages promiscuity and sexual activity outside of marriage. And from the very supporters of the Pill comes the acknowledgment that contraception is closely linked to abortion.

Looking through the comments left by women praising the Pill, I saw clear evidence of the birth control mentality that is so widespread in America – and many other countries - today. Put simply, this mentality is based on the belief in an inalienable “right” to sex without consequences.

Many women on Planned Parenthood’s site posted comments about how “the Pill enabled me to discover myself and my sexuality.” Several spoke of how the Pill allowed them to “have fun without worrying.” Sadly, this is the birth control mentality, summed up in one woman’s comment, “My body is MY temple thanks to the Pill!”

One woman said that the Pill allowed her to avoid worrying “about poor decisions made in the heat of the moment.” With this statement, she herself admits that she made poor decisions, and she admits that the Pill allowed her to make them. If not for the Pill, would she have thought twice? If she had to worry about the possibility of pregnancy, would she perhaps have refrained from making some of those “poor decisions?”

Another woman spoke of her lifestyle after starting the Pill by saying, “I started allowing myself to be with guys in a casual fashion.” She went on to thank the Pill for protecting her from pregnancy when she did so. Perhaps she – and others like her – would think twice about promiscuous behavior if they did not believe themselves to be fully immune from the consequences of such actions.

Also, I noticed that, of those who reported that they originally went on the Pill for health reasons, many said that they were later able to enjoy it as contraception when they decided to become intimate with a boyfriend. Their testimony made it blatantly clear how being on the Pill had affected their mentality. The fact that they described the Pill as a factor in their choice to later become sexually active seems to suggest that they might not have done so otherwise.

One woman told about how her father put her on the Pill when she went away to college. Although she said that she was a virgin at the time, she went on to explain, “As a result, I was able to go off to college and was ready to have a sexual relationship when I was ready and not have to worry about pregnancy.” The fact that her ability to have a sexual relationship was “a result” of being on the Pill indicates that she might have behaved differently if she had not been on it.

Another eye-opening acknowledgment found on the website is that of the connection between contraception and abortion. One man made a comment on the site celebrating how “the pill has elevated women's autonomy over their bodies and paved the way for the legalization of safe abortions.” He is absolutely right. Where birth control is found, legalized abortion quickly follows.

As another comment on the site observed, abortion is a “backup” for contraception. This is what happens in a society where the birth control mentality is widespread. The Pill both accommodates and cultivates the mindset that a woman has a “right” to have sex without being open to the possibility of a child. But conception is a natural result of sex, and birth control is not perfect in preventing this natural result.

So what happens when the contraception fails, and the women who thought their “freedom” was guaranteed suddenly find themselves pregnant? The birth control mentality tells them that it wasn’t their fault – after all, they did everything they were told to do. And they still have a “right” to sex without a child, so the child must disappear. Abortion becomes the solution, the easy way to get rid of an inconvenient mistake. When birth control comes to be seen as a “right,” abortion follows closely behind it.

Promoters of birth control would not admit any of these connections, of course. They would say the Pill is a way to encourage responsible sexual behavior and decrease the need for abortions. But the testimony of hundreds of individuals on the Planned Parenthood website indicates otherwise. Fifty years later, their words reveal the truth about the Pill.

Michelle Bauman is a senior at the University of Dallas, where she is studying politics and journalism.
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