Birth Control: a Necessity or Luxury?

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Sex. Birth Control. Sex Ed. These are all words that tend to make most people uncomfortable. But, why? What is the stigma behind these small words and phrases that tends to make people jump at the mention? The reality is, most people are under-educated on these phrases. Most don’t realize how much of an impact birth control can have on people’s lives. It allows safe sex, choosing when you get to have children, relief from period pain, acne, polycystic ovary syndrome and so much more.

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People tend to not realize this because of a lack of education that can be traced back to sex ed in health class. This is an issue in our society and needs to be fixed. Because birth control has so many uses, people should be informed about it, and it should be readily available for anyone.

In order to fix the issue of under-education on birth control and its uses. Sex education should include information on all kinds of birth control, not just abstinence. Although many people would like to think that preaching abstinence at teens will suddenly kill their desire to have sex, “The National Institute of Health reports that abstinence-only sex ed is not effective in preventing teen pregnancy and may actually exacerbate the problem,” and that along with causing the teen pregnancy rate to climb higher “half of all new STI cases occur to people aged 15-24,” because of a lack of education (Roseen). Just think how easily this statistic could be brought down with proper sex education and information about birth control. If anything, it’s the lack of proper knowledge of how to have safe sex that causes teen pregnancy and STI cases in the first place. No matter how much a school teaches abstinence, there will still be teenagers that have sex. Thus, those “teenagers who [do] choose to have sex despite schools’ efforts to stop them will not have the proper knowledge about how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections,” (Roseen). So, wouldn’t it be better to just educate them properly first, rather than naively thinking that all hormone raging teens will listen to an abstinence lecture? Think about it, normally when a teen is told something that they aren’t allowed to do, what is their first instinct? A longing to do the exact thing they were told not to. Teens are going to continue to have sex regardless of the standard of sex education they are given, so the very least the school can do is teach them how to do it safely. And to those that fear that teaching teens about proper birth control will hurl them all into having sex before they are ready, that’s simply not how it works. “Talking to kids about sex and even giving them condoms doesn’t make them have sex any sooner. It does, however, lower the chances you’ll become a grand[parent] before you’re ready,” (Brody). In order to protect teenagers from sexually transmitted infections and teen pregnancy, they need to have access to birth control and must be informed about more than just abstinence.

In the real world, expecting abstinence from not just teens, but anyone who doesn’t want to get pregnant is absolutely absurd and unrealistic and the practice of shaming those that do not practice abstinence is not okay. While “Purists might prefer that all teenagers simply wait to have sex, but it’s a failing strategy that leads to pregnancies, abortions, lowered lifetime potential, and higher public assistance costs,” (Steep Decline in Teenage…”). The harsh reality that these purists must come to terms with is the fact that the stigma behind premarital sex is declining and becoming normalized. Chamine states that “At the beginning of the 21st century, more than two thirds of young people had premarital sex while in their teens.” While, some may not agree morally with premarital sex, attempting to force abstinence will only bring bigger issues. So, when teens come to an adult asking for help to obtain contraception they shouldn’t be shamed for it. “Kids asking for contraception are obviously trying to be responsible about their sexual activities. They deserve our applause,” (Roberts). These teens are acting like responsible adults and are trying to take the high road, so the thought that anyone would reprimand them for having the courage to speak up and ask for help with how to safely have sex is absolutely absurd. This type of behaviour should be encouraged and used as a good example for other teens. Roberts states that, the simple fact is, “If your child is not coming to you for help, the blame lies with you as the [parent] for not fostering a positive, healthy relationship with them.” That is the parent’s fault, not the teens. And it’s not just parents that shame teens, Roseen speaks about how a teacher publicly implied “that girls are not good if they also want sex and act on it.” This is just one way how our culture shames girls for having natural desires. “To think that their raging hormones can absorb all those messages and never act on them is unrealistic,” (“Steep Decline in Teenage…”). Instead of shaming teens for having natural desires, why not educate and provide them with the resources they need to act on them safely. In fact, not giving teens the proper education or access to birth control is another way society deprives and shames teens for having sexual desires.

If the american society wants to lower the rate of teen pregnancy, they absolutely must allow teens access to birth control. Unwanted pregnancy rates are steadily dropping and that is a great thing! Though it’s not because of abstinence or abortions like some think, but, because of birth control. Although birth control is being used more and more, teens still seem to have trouble getting their hands on contraceptives themselves because “although half the states in the country have affirmed minor’s rights to contraception, the others explicitly allow only certain categories of minors to consent to contraceptive services,” (Brody). In many states, a parent is the one that has to consent to long acting birth control for a minor. That isn’t fair to some teens whose parents won’t consent because of religious beliefs or in the unfortunate case that their parents are not socially “present” because of things like drug and alcohol abuse. In fact, the reasoning behind not allowing teens to consent to birth control for themselves is because they are not “responsible enough.” What is truy ironic about this statement is that “a 17 year old can consent to…anything [a] baby might need. But she cannot consent to a long-acting, reversible contraceptive [like an implant or IUD],” (Wilkinson, Edmonds, and Carroll).

Now really, what sense does that make? In the united states if a teen has a child she’s legally expected to consent and make all decisions for that child, but she can’t get long lasting birth control methods to prevent that from even happening in the first place? We deny teens the ability to be sure that they are safe from unwanted pregnancy that could potentially ruin life as they know it, but will willingly let them take full responsibility for another human. Seems a little off, right? In some situations, “There have been cases of adolescent mothers’ parents refusing them pain relief during delivery because they wanted to teach the girls a lesson,” (Wilkinson, Edmonds, and Carroll). How completely inhumane. Typically, these are the same parents that refuse to give their kids birth control in the first place. So why on earth should these cruel parents have a say? Teens MUST be able to consent to birth control for themselves because obviously some parents can’t get past their own narrow minded views to do what is ultimately best for their children. All in all, in America, if the standard is going to be that teens are responsible enough to take care of another human in the case that they do get pregnant, then they are also responsible enough to consent to their own birth control. In fact, if anything, them wanting birth control shows the responsibility in the first place. It shows proactive thinking and planning that reflects much more maturity than simply doing nothing. So why do states still force parental consent?

Many people can’t afford to simply put their life on hold for a pregnancy, so they should be equipped with the resources necessary to prevent one, like plan B emergency contraceptives. College students in particular are a great example for this. “Unlike a business, a student’s sex life does not operate on a 9-5 schedule, and because of this access to emergency contraceptives should not operate on a schedule,” (Larimer). In order for the pill to be effective, it should be taken as soon as humanly possible. Thus, having 24 hour access would be ideal. Sometimes you do everything right, and your initial birth control methods still fail, thus highlighting the need for emergency contraceptives like plan B. But, failure of previous methods of birth control aren’t the only reason people may need plan B. Unfortunately, in this world, “A sexual assault or rape may [occur]…and no survivor is ever prepared for that type of situation,” (Martinez). Having emergency contraceptives openly available would help to eliminate some mental strife the survivor is going through.

Whether it be that birth control methods fail or god forbid an assault has occurred, people shouldn’t receive shame for assessing emergency contraceptives because sometimes, quite frankly, life happens. Because many can’t afford to put their life on hold for a pregnancy, birth control should be easily available for women. The fact women are the ones who have to carry the children. Women are the ones with periods and yet the responsibility of birth control mainly falls on women whether it be through pills, an IUD, Implant, shots etc. Because the responsibility mainly falls on women, they should have free birth control services provided for them. “The pill costs $15 to $50 a month. This is an expense that men will never have to encounter,” (Hultin). The thing is, many can’t afford to pay for birth control on their own, but still need it. Some women with extreme symptoms go for weeks dealing with premenstrual symptoms before their periods even begin. Leaving them maybe a week of the month without pain and cramps if they are lucky; yet another thing males don’t have to deal with. Along with this, women spend thousands of dollars on menstrual products. Some women even miss important things like school and work because their periods are so bad. Birth control can help relieve these things immensely. But why make them worry about the cost as well? The cost for birth control should not lie solely on women and they should relieve some sort of financial help from the government.

Health insurance is a huge way to help relieve costs of birth control, but Trump continuously attacks funding for this. He tried to pass rulings where insurance companies could choose to opt out of covering birth control costs because of religious beliefs or simply just because they don’t want to. The scary fact is “without insurance, the price of some contraceptives can be daunting for many women,” (“An Unwise Moral Exemption”). Many people can’t afford birth control without insurance and those people need birth control just as much as anyone else. Women use birth control for a wide variety of reasons besides safe sex like “treating acne, decreased bleeding, pain and menstrual cramps, regulating menstrual periods, treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome, lowered risk for anemia and even decreasing one’s risk for some cancer,” (Contraception is a Key…). For a lot of people birth control is used for at least one of those healthcare reasons along with providing safe sex. Thus it’s completely unethical to take that much needed coverage away from women.

In short, “Trump’s administration prevents even those who only intend to use birth control for purposes totally unrelated to sexual activity from getting their medicine in a cost effective way,” (“Birth Control Proposition…”). This is not only unfair in itself, but on top of this, these new rules are so appalling because they “violate the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution by hindering women’s equal participation in society, perpetuating outmoded gender stereotypes, and unlawfully elevating an employers belief….above a woman’s bodily anatomy,” (“Contraception is a Key…”). When pregnant, a woman has to put her life on hold, thus she should be the one to decide when she is ready to do just that. It is absolutely no one’s decision but hers and is completely unjust to try and allow employers to have an influence on that decision based on whether or not they get coverage on their birth control. Since this country was founded, the American government’s job has been to protect people’s fundamental rights. But, by denying insurance for birth control, they are doing the exact opposite. Even US district judge Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. agrees that the new rulings were illegally put in place and new rules “transform contraceptive coverage from legal entitlement to an essentially gratuitous benefit wholly subject to their employers direction.” Insurance companies or any employer should not be allowed to mess with coverage for birth control because it is a necessity for so many. It is completely unjust to take away funding for birth control from women in need. Thus, insurance companies should be required to cover birth control costs.

In the end, “everyone deserves the best medical care and access to complete and accurate medical information…regardless of insurance status, income, race, or where they live,” (Chor). It’s time to start letting people make their own decisions. Providing education and free birth control methods only promotes healthier and safer choices in the long run. For years, all over the world, the stigma behind premarital sex has been declining and is continuing to decline according to Chamie. Because of this, the need for a good sex education and safe methods of sex using birth control are needed now more than ever. Sex and birth control do not have to continue to be phrases that people associate with negativity. Birth control is indeed a good thing for our society and it does in fact do so many positive things like lowering unwanted pregnancy rates, provide safe sex, help relieve and regulate periods, and so much more. Birth control should be made easily available for everyone because it is a necessity for so many people in this world, and without it many would suffer.”

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Birth Control: a Necessity or Luxury?. (2021, Mar 18). Retrieved from