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Birth control, known for preventing pregnancy, takes various forms: pills, sponges, vaginal rings, patches, condoms, and more. It was legalized by the Supreme Court during the Baird V. Eisenstadt case in 1972 (Thompson). Some women were ecstatic when it was legalized, seeing it as a way to have control over their lives—not only in terms of pregnancy but also in regulating their menstrual cycles. I was in the seventh grade when I first encountered birth control. Like other girls, I was at the beginning stages of becoming a woman, but my experience was quite different.
For days at a time, I was unable to sleep due to excessive cramping. The severity of the pain forced me to frequently check out from school. After enduring prolonged discomfort, I consulted a doctor, who prescribed various medications. Nothing worked until she prescribed Lo Loestrin Fe, a type of birth control. After about a week, I was no longer suffering from sleepless nights or debilitating cramps.
How it works
For some, birth control is a precaution, a relief for young girls, or a helpful prescription for women. However, others view it as a questionable practice leading to debates. Despite the various forms available, reaching a consensus proves challenging. Many young girls face dilemmas like mine. Consequently, as a community and a nation, we must ask ourselves: is birth control a helpful precaution or a harmful gesture?
A significant debate is whether the government should fully fund birth control, or would this increase the number of abortions in the United States. The central concern for many is whether this funding would facilitate or impede abortions. An abortion is defined as the “termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus” (“Abortion”). Funding birth control does not appear to reduce the number of abortions, but it does increase taxpayers’ burden (“Birth”).
Such funding also risked sparking a higher sex drive in the population, leading to recklessness (“Birth”). Some argue that pregnancy is a natural state, not a disease, and maintain that it should not be ‘prevented’ (“Birth”). Lastly, some types of birth control may cause abortions, implying that “religious and other employers objecting to contraceptives and abortion on moral grounds should be exempted from funding policies” (“Birth”).
Birth control doesn’t fall under the category of ‘basic health.’ Basic health classes generally focus on sex education topics like STD prevention, but usually omit discussions on easy access to birth control. Most health classes teach about weight management, healthy eating habits, and exercise plans. Many people think that abstaining from sexual intercourse is the only effective way to prevent teenage pregnancies. Teaching teenagers about birth control could potentially send the wrong message—that it’s okay to engage in sexual activities as long as they are on birth control (“Teen”).
The distribution of birth control is also a major conflict. Should stores such as CVS and Walgreens distribute birth control without prescriptions? What rights do pharmacists have when it comes to distribution? Should pharmacists be allowed to refuse to distribute birth control due to religious beliefs, or is that the consequence they accept with their career decision? Many believe that due to religious beliefs, pharmacists should never be forced to distribute contraceptives (“Pharmacists”). Most states have a “Right of Conscience” law in place (“Pharmacists”).
The “Conscience Clause” is a legislative provision that relieves a person from compliance due to religious grounds (US Legal). The clause states that “pharmacists, physicians, and other health care providers can refuse to provide certain medical services for reasons of religion or conscience” (US Legal). It is unfair to the pharmacists who do not have the right to refuse to fill the prescription, while health care workers have the option to refuse to provide abortion services (“Pharmacists”). No matter the career path one chooses, everyone should have equal rights just as in other professions – irrespective of what it may be; after all, equality is an ongoing fight in our country.
Although these arguments bear some merits, is birth control actually beneficial? The United States government has been known for funding many things, like providing funds for the Homeland Security Department, the Justice Department, and even the Agriculture Department. President Barack Obama even created Obamacare, which provided funds and services for a variety of people, including those who did not have insurance. Why would the government not fund a product which could potentially lower the abortion and teenage pregnancy rates significantly?
Government funding of birth control could help women in many ways. Such funding will give women easier access to birth control, causing a surge in usage (“Birth”). Women will also be able to afford birth control much easier due to the funding (“Birth”). Both of these benefits will lower the number of unintended pregnancies, directly resulting in fewer abortions (“Birth”). Also, the decrease in unintended pregnancies will not cost the taxpayers but, conversely, save money.
Health classes are mandated in every school’s curriculum, and since birth control relates to health, it should be taught. Health classes teach students about things like STDs, weight management, exercising, menstrual cycles, UTIs, and many other related bodily functions, so why not inform them about a prevention method for when they are sexually active? Birth control has been shown to have a major impact on teenage pregnancies. In recent years, teenage pregnancy rates have dropped (“Teen”). Believing that the only way to prevent pregnancy is through resisting temptation “is simply a daydream and is unrealistic” (“Teen”).
What if temptation isn’t what got girls pregnant? What if she was taken advantage of or a victim of rape? Being on birth control could dramatically change a girl’s life rather than stranding her with the decision of what to do after getting pregnant. If students can learn about the variety of birth control methods and their accessibility, resisting temptation wouldn’t remain as the only prevention against pregnancies. The Guttmacher Institute reveals that a significant reason why the teenage pregnancy rate in industrialized countries is lower than that of U.S. teens is because of access to both sex education and birth control (“Teen”).
Most schools in Great Britain, France, Sweden, and Canada offer many sex education programs and promote safe sex campaigns (“Teen”). In these countries, unlike the United States, birth control is accessible, thereby attributing to their markedly lower teen pregnancy rates (“Teen”). As Barth states, “Teenagers from the United States have higher rates of unplanned pregnancy due to a lack of knowledge about contraceptives, which consequently results in higher rates of STDs— it has been proven that they tend to have the most sexual partners.”
Pharmacists train for their job, aware of its demands. They “serve patients by preparing medications; providing pharmacological information to a multidisciplinary health care team; and monitoring patient drug therapies” on a daily basis (“Pharmacist Job”). Pharmacists typically complete “three to four years of undergraduate pre-professional (prerequisite) coursework, followed by four academic years in the professional program.” During this comprehensive schooling, pharmacists understand that they may have to prepare prescriptions with which they might not necessarily agree.
For instance, if a patient with severe anxiety walks into a pharmacy, prescription for Xanax in hand, and the pharmacist doesn’t believe the patient should be taking this prescription due to its alarming side effects, will the pharmacist refuse to fill it? The answer is simply “no.” The pharmacist will fill the prescription for the anxious patient, because it was recommended by a doctor, and it might be the patient’s only hope for relief from anxiety.
Given that pharmacists are not health care workers, conscience laws do not apply to them (“Pharmacists”). Since pharmacists are not protected under these laws, they cannot refuse to offer services. These services can’t be declined because dispensing birth control is not considered an “abortion service” (“Pharmacists”). On the other hand, “abortion services” encompass options like the Plan B pill – while birth control stands as a preventative contraceptive measure for women.
Giving all the benefits of birth control, people should embrace it. People need to stop being so cynical when they hear about others using contraceptives. While a woman may be using it to prevent pregnancy, she may also have other reasons. Preventing pregnancy may not even be a factor in why she is on the pill. Birth control may be prescribed to women to help regulate the menstrual cycle, or even just help with symptoms while on the menstrual cycle, and to clear up acne. Women should not be shunned and forced to hide their medical choices. This is an option for women — therefore, they should use it.
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