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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fertility and Politics: A letter about who's really in charge of our bodies

Dear Women of America:

Let me start off by saying Thank You. Thank you for caring so much about your body, your rights, and your future. Thanks for taking the time to care that what male politicians do, because you're right - it does affect our bodies, sometimes directly.

But I am really afraid you have it wrong. I am worried that you have fallen for a big hoax - and it's name is contraception.

If you're reading this letter, maybe you know how I feel about artificial birth control. Maybe you don't. In a nutshell, I'm not a fan. In fact, I don't use it at all. Spoiler alert: Despite a happy and full marriage, I don't have a house full of kids, all 9 months apart (2 so far, both fully "planned," more than 2 years apart). I live in a large American city, in a normal suburb, work a full-time job, and eat fast-food more often than I care to admit. But enough about me - lets talk about you, women of America.

There's a caravan in town, and they're peddling snake-oil. You remember that story, right? The crazy salesman with the handle-bar mustache, selling something foul-smelling out of the back of his horse drawn wagon. "It will solve all your problems!" he says, but he's not telling the whole story. His magic serum isn't all it's cracked up to be. On average, it costs a woman (or her insurance, or her government) $18,000 over the course of her fertile years to "make sure" she can have sex without getting pregnant. The most commonly-used form of contraception, oral contraceptives (the pill) has been classified by the World Health Organization as a class 1 carcinogen. Women using contraception are significantly more likely to get cancer, to die a violent death and to be divorced, and they are just as likely to have an unplanned pregnancy (since half of all unplanned pregnancies in the United States occur despite the use of contraception). And not one bit of it is necessary.

I have heard and seen a lot of buzz lately from you about how politicians can't tell you what to do with your body, because it's your decision. True. But how much do you know about your body? Are you really making the decisions? Or have you relied on some old assumptions? Have you, convinced that knowing the intricacies of your fertility is impossible, gotten a bit complacent about your right to your body? Have you, convinced that this natural function of your body is something to be stopped at all costs, already handed full responsibility of your reproductive system over, not to politicians, but to doctors? Are you really in control at all?

I pose a question to you, women of America: what is more irresponsible - knowing nothing about what your body is doing "down there" and trusting a prescription to take care of it all, or taking the 2 minutes a day required to know that you are healthy, functioning properly, and (gasp) ovulating on schedule? FACT: A woman is only fertile for a few days each month. FACT: It is possible to observe very simple signs in your own body and predict this fertility. FACT: "Unprotected" sex with an infertile woman does not produce pregnancy.

I could go on for ages. I won't. This is not about religion. It is certainly not about politics. It's not about cancer-prevention, or hormones secreted into our drinking water, or 7 fold risk of preeclampsia, or the complications risked during tubal litigation (though I would love it if you would look into those things). It's not even about citing my sources for all of the facts I've included in this letter (if you would like to know if I'm making it up, I challenge you to do some good research). What this letter to you is about is simply this: before you claim that no one has a right to make any decisions about your body but you, find out about you. Make some educated decisions. In my humble opinion, contraception is unnecessary, unhealthy, and (frankly) misogynistic. It's anti-woman.

Don't buy what the snake-oil salesmen are selling.

Spoken with the greatest of love, with nothing but your health and wellness in mind,