Let me start by saying that I fully expect that the opinions left on this article will differ. Differ from my own and from some of my friends. That is okay and I encourage it. This is a place to respectfully state your opinion and tell why you believe what you believe. If I see anyone making inappropriate remarks, dishing out personal attacks and acting like a child I will block you. You’ve been warned.
One of the many reasons that I love Jodi Picoult is because she tackles topics that many people try to avoid talking about even though they are unavoidable. I always learn something from her and am always able to use her writing to spark a conversation. I also really respect the amount of research that she does for her books because it proves that authors really can cover any topic properly. Today I will be referencing her most recent work A Spark of Light (don’t worry, I won’t spoil).
Let’s start with birth control.
I personally believe that it was incredibly responsible and mature of Wren to have a conversation about sex with the guy that she planned to sleep with and to seek birth control. This does not happen often among teenagers. Partially because people are too busy trying to force abstinence instead of teaching safe sex. Sure, abstinence is ideal, but it isn’t realistic. Honestly, like with most things, if you tell kids that can’t have or do something it makes them more curious.
I understand that a lot of people have mixed feelings about birth control whether it be pills, patches or whatever. Everyone is different, so these things affect our bodies differently. However, I have an issue with people going around and saying that no woman ever should use birth control. Again, if it’s had troubling effects on your body, please share your experience with the rest of us, but don’t tell us what to do.
First and foremost, contrary to popular belief, birth control is not just used as contraceptive. I started using birth control when I was 20 years old and at that point I was still a virgin and not planning to have sex anytime soon. I started it because my cramps were awful, and I was vomiting every time I got my period which was pretty heavy and sometimes lasted up to 8 days.
*Oh, by the way, if talking about periods is grossing you out…..grow up. A post about normalizing periods will be coming soon!*
Anyway, once I started taking the pills the vomiting stopped and the flow was lighter. Sometimes it even lasted only 3 days!
Yes, now that I am older, part of the reason that I continue to take birth control (aside from the fact that at this point it would be counterproductive) is because I do not want children. If you didn’t already know that, read more about it here. I love other people’s kids, I just don’t want any of my own. I like being on my own, being able to do what I want, when I want. Aside from the addition of a pet, I don’t want that to change. Ever.
Because I attended a Catholic university, I am well aware that some religions do not support the use of birth control. I get that and if you’re a religious person I can respect that to an extent. I fully respect your religion when you are applying it to yourself, not when you are trying to force it on other people.
At the end of the day, the use of birth control should depend on the one taking it. How it affects her, what the pros and cons are, and what she decides. That’s it.
And can we stop with the “well if you don’t want kids then don’t have sex” argument please? By now you should know that the majority of people have sex for other reasons than to produce children. You don’t have to like it but it is what it is.
I’ll also go ahead and let you know that I am a supporter of Planned Parenthood. I think that the work that they do is important. If you hate PP because they perform abortions then I recommend educating yourself because that is a very small percentage of what they do. Women’s reproductive health is about much more than abortions. I wrote an article about reproductive rights in January of 2017 and at that time abortion was only 3% of their services.
As a woman who doesn’t want children I’ve received some very angry comments about how I’m making a huge mistake and that I will regret it later. News flash people: It’s not a mistake and I didn’t ask for your opinions so let it go already.
Not wanting children also plays a role in the reason that I am pro-choice. I’m tired of people trying to make decisions about my body and my life on my behalf. I shouldn’t have to fight or justify my choices because they don’t satisfy someone else. There isn’t a single person on this planet that has the right to tell me that I HAVE to have children. My ex tried to manipulate me into having children despite the fact that he knew I never wanted them. I shouldn’t have had to go through that but because so many people still want to tie a woman’s worth to whether we bear children, that asshole still somehow feels like what he did wasn’t wrong.
Even though I don’t want children, I fully support and am genuinely excited for people who do. I love when my family and friends have children. But I can be happy for them while still wanting something different for myself. It’s not that difficult. I mean, think about it: Just because I’m working towards a career in higher education, doesn’t mean I can’t support friends making different career choices. Other big life choices are no different. We don’t have to agree but I will always support them. Plus, I don’t go around telling other people that they shouldn’t or can’t have children so don’t try to tell me that I have to.
The reason that I am pro-choice is because it’s not fair, moral, or acceptable for one person to dictate what happens to another person’s body. We’re not in the 1920s anymore. We deserve to make our own choices about our own bodies. If a woman has an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, what she chooses to do about it should be up to her and her alone. If she wants to seek council on what she should do great, but she should be able to make the final decision on her own.
Despite what many people believe, pro-choice is not synonymous with pro-abortion. It’s possible for someone who is pro-choice to find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy, keep the child, and still support and understand why someone else may have an abortion. No one ever wakes up and says, “You know what? I’m gonna get myself pregnant so I can get an abortion.” If you seriously think that then I need you to really think about that because it doesn’t even make sense. Abortions – by pill or procedure – take time and money and it takes a toll on your body. Then again, so does pregnancy.
“…..With abortion, there are risks of injury to your bowel, bladder, uterus, Fallopian tubes, and ovaries; and that if you have injury to your uterus, that’s severe enough, we might have to remove your uterus…..But guess what? Those are the exact same risks that you’ll have if you give birth to a baby. In fact, you’re more likely to have those risks giving birth to a child than have an abortion.”
-Dr. Louie Ward, A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
At this point, I’m not sure if I believe that “pro-life” actually exists. I’m not saying that it can’t but I have yet to meet someone who actually cares about saving lives. “Anti-abortion” seems to be a more accurate term. I am 100% open to someone proving me wrong so if you are pro-life I have some questions for you:
- If you’re against abortions way are you also against birth control? Most pro-life advocates argue that life starts at conception but if there’s no conception then there’s no need for an abortion right?
- Why not teach safe sex and contraceptives when it’s clear that trying to force abstinence doesn’t really work?
- If you’re inclined to suggest adoption, are you aware of how flawed the adoption and foster care systems are? Do you know how many children currently are without permanent homes?
- What about cases where teenage girls are kicked out by their parents after finding out that they’re pregnant and have nowhere to go?
- What about people are just not financially ready to support a child?
- What about rape victims?
- What about those who are already being physically abused but can’t get out? Should they subject their child to that abuse too?
- What about people who are struggling with addiction?
- How can you claim to be pro-life if carrying full term could put the mother’s life at risk?
- Why do you feel that you have the right to control someone else’s life/future?
These questions aren’t meant to start arguments. They are genuine questions because I feel like these are all scenarios that need to be considered. Here’s a question that I pulled from A Spark of Light: If a hospital is burning down and you had to decide between saving a fertilized egg in the IVF lab or a baby in the maternity ward, which would you choose?
How would you answer that question if you believe that life begins at conception?
I will be totally upfront. If I got pregnant today I would probably have an abortion. I would never want to have that procedure, but it would feel like my best option. I’m 25, I live at home, I don’t have the money to take care of a child right now. I have student loans to pay off, way too many women in my family have suffered from multiple miscarriages and again, I just don’t want kids.
You don’t have a agree with that choice but….it’s not yours to make. Not sorry.
That’s my story, but now I want to hear yours.