We’re not talking about the popular Salt-n-Peppa rap song from back in the day. We’re talking about Black women and our reproductive health. Really, we’re talking about sex and no babies. It seems odd that something so personal as a woman’s reproductive choices is such a public topic. Political campaigns are run and lost on a candidate’s stand on a woman’s right to choose and whether or not birth control should be provided to a paying customer. Lest we not forget during the the 2012 election when Todd Akin, a republican candidate for the US Senate, said that a woman can’t get pregnant from “legitimate rape” because the body has a way of “shutting the whole thing down”. That little statement sent shock waves through the media and the voting public. Recently President Obama’s mandate on health insurance providing birth control to all women was struck a blow when Hobby Lobby refused to comply and it was upheld by the court. Hobby Lobby is privately held and as such retains the right to refuse health insurance benefits to its employees, they chose no birth control.
Birth control is a controversial topic because many devout Christians of all sects believe that procreation is mandated by the Bible and doing anything to impede the reproductive process, other than abstinence, is a sin. Additionally they believe that birth control allows people to engage in premarital sex which they feel is wrong. What abut the separation of church and state you ask? That’s a topic for another day but it has truly never existed. Therefore organizations that maintain this belief system refuse to allow birth control to be offered via the health insurance plans they fund. That’s their right. It’s also the right of the employee to not work there. Contraception is big topic on the national stage. The Gates Foundation has made it a global imperative to bring contraception to the parts of the world where it’s most needed and Melinda Gates gives compelling rationale for why we need to be talking about this.
The importance of birth control is that it allows for population control within someone’s household. There is a national population control component but that starts getting into conspiracy theory territory. Single women aren’t the only ones using birth control. Married couples who want to maintain a certain headcount in their house use it. Single women and teenagers use it to, of course, engage in sex while lowering the probability of pregnancy. Others use the pill as a means of controlling their period and PMS symptoms. While popular myth and media folklore will have people believing that single Black women are the only ones having babies outside of marriage, in 2012 we saw a spike of college-educated White women in their twenties getting pregnant without a ring on it. Statistics supports that most Black children, 73%, are born out of wedlock compared to 53% of Latinos and 29% of Whites. Maybe the landscape and beliefs are just shifting. After all, having children out of wedlock isn’t a crime against humanity.
If the church says we are to abstain and Black women are the most devout demographic in America how is it then that 73% of Black children are born to parents outside of marriage? It’s likely NOT due to teenage pregnancy because the rates for all races have declined significantly primarily due to education and birth control. It’s primarily driven by women in their twenties but no clear indication of why. Ideally they have more resources, education and access to birth control than teenagers. By the thirties it could be that women are fully engaged in their careers and are more apt to take precautions. Women in their twenties may lack health care insurance to visit a gynecologist or afford the birth control which can be very expensive. Hmmm, that’s where that President Obama mandate comes in handy. Now maybe these women want to get pregnant without being married, that’s a possibility too.
But if you don’t want to get pregnant what are the options for birth control more broadly referred to as contraception? There’s a whole host of them out there and it’s a must to discuss with a healthcare professional. There are pills, patches, intra uterine devices (IUD), condoms, and implants. If you have already had all of the children you’re going to have there is “sterilization” methods such as having one’s tubes tied (tubal ligation) or a vasectomy (aka “being snipped”) for a man. There are risks and benefits to each one and it’s imperative you speak to a well-informed health care professional about the options.
- The pill when taken by mouth religiously (pun intended) has an effectiveness of 99.9%. The pill disrupts the body’s hormone cycle to prevent egg release and can also change the environment of the uterus to “shut the whole thing down” (sorry, couldn’t help it).
- IUDs work by killing sperm when they enter the uterus. It’s put in place and can be removed by the use of a string to pull it out. Some are hormone based while others are copper.
- Implants, typically in the arm, and patches work by emitting hormones continuously without the user having to remember to take a pill or place an IUD.
- Condoms basically work by catching the sperm as it comes out of the penis and being disposed of immediately. You can and should double-up on birth control and condoms as condoms are a great STD preventative.
Please, please, please note that contraceptives such as the pill, patches, IUD’s, etc. are NOT protective against STDs, sexually transmitted diseases. A condom is your best defense outside of abstinence. Consult a physician for a better understanding of these methods and which is best for you. While there has been talk of birth control pills for men, the onus is primarily on women to prevent pregnancy. What do you think about that? Should men have to play a bigger part in birth control? Let’s us know your thoughts and share this post within your community.
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