On Policing Your Own Womb

So, here’s a thing–what if birth control, like the pill or what-have-you, was available over the counter?

It’s an interesting thought. I come at it from many angles, but ultimately, I have to go with “oh hells to the yes, yes please!”

First, let me review my concerns. I worry about the effects of hormones on women (as I’ve written before about my issues with HBC) and all the side effects that they might not be expecting without a doctor warning them. I worry about women picking the wrong birth control without experimenting with different choices. I worry about women getting on birth control and then throwing condom use to the wind. I worry that with access to birth control over the counter, women will stop going to the doctor without needing to get their prescription refilled.

Well, to be honest, so few doctors really chat up their patients about the side effects of birth control, and I hear all too often about doctors being unable to try different kinds for a patient who is suffering severe side effects. If it’s broke, fix it! But I hear constantly about problems with doctors who are not supportive and informative and helpful (for the record, I have been incredibly lucky to have an AMAZING gynecologist, so my early GYN experiences were all fantastic, or at least fantastic as such things can be. Now that I’ve been on a different insurance plan for the last three years, I miss my GYN and the office staff so very much–they were truly gems. If you’re in the southwestern Connecticut area, I cannot recommend enough that you check out The Center for Women’s Health in Stamford). So, to be honest, I don’t actually think that the majority of women will be missing out on that much by not having to go through a doctor. Sure, there’s cases of awesome-sauce doctors and nurses, but it’s just not the majority. Most women would probably do better researching on their own.

Because of that, I DO worry that women will stop going to the doctor. I myself haven’t gone in several years, because I am so utterly unenthused about my new PCP and GYN now that I’m on my work insurance (it blows, btw). Since I have an IUD, I don’t need to get a prescription refilled. I’m sure that there are better women than I out there, but there’s a lot of women that hate going to doctors, especially ladypart doctors. I have friends who, due to not being sexually active, have never had a pap smear in their life, or have only had one. While I am not a bastion of righteousness in this, as I am guilty too, ladies gotta see doctors. I do NOT like the idea of using access to birth control as a way to enforce it, though. I think doctors shaping up and providing better experiences to their clients would be nice. (Again, man do I miss the Center for Women’s Health!)

I worry that access to birth control will stop women from using condoms, but you know what? I think that’s unfounded. Women who aren’t going to use condoms probably won’t use them regardless of whether or not they’re on birth control, and even with doctor warnings and office visits, a lot of women who go on birth control get rid of condoms nonetheless. Safe sex is something we have to make into a cultural norm, widely supported, and taught in schools. It’s something that the male partner should also be participating in–just because a woman is on birth control doesn’t mean that a dude should immediately try to dodge wearing a rubber, y’know? The impetus is on both parties, since both are at risk. This is an issue unrelated to birth control, rather, I simply worry that easy access to birth control would make the problems our society currently has that much worse. However, that’s foolish, to restrict something on account of fear, particularly when the problem is only tangentially related.

Moving past fears, I think this would absolutely be a step in the right direction for sexual health and reproductive freedom.

When you get right down to it, it is stupid that if I wanted to go on the pill, I would have to go ask someone else for permission.

This is not an addictive drug. It cannot be used for recreation purpose. It is not, when you get right down to it, a controlled substance. A much more intense form, Plan B, is already available over the counter. Why is it that we can only get the emergency option, that generally really fucks with a woman’s body? Why can’t we just have access to regular, routine, preventative options without having to jump through hoops, potentially have to search for a non-judgmental doctor, etc?

This is no different than any other simple medication. Aspirin is more dangerous the birth control pill!

Why is it that we are not allowed to select for ourselves how to manage our reproduction? Men can buy condoms (hell, women can too). Why can’t we buy the pill?

As I’ve written before, I’d love to see less emphasis on hormonal birth control, but that’s my personal politics. It is far more important to me that women have many options, and access to the full range of them, than that they adhere to my politics. They can decide for themselves how they want to manage their bodies. But first, they need to be allowed to decide for themselves.


06/23/2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized.

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