As ThinkProgress reports, new research has found that a third of young women are still relying on the “withdrawal method” to prevent pregnancy. As those of us lucky enough to have benefited from a more comprehensive sex education probably know, this method is far from reliable as a form of birth control. According to the report:
“Researchers at the Duke University Medical Center analyzed data from 2,220 participants in between the ages of 15 and 24, and found that 31 percent of those women had used withdrawal as a form of birth control at least once. Twenty one percent of the women who had used the “pull out” method experienced an unintended pregnancy, compared to only 13 percent of the women using modern forms of contraception. Women relying on withdrawal were 7.5 percent more likely to have used a form of emergency contraception, like Plan B.”
So why are so many women waiting on their male bodied partners to pull out when there are so many other more reliable forms of birth control available? Well, it seems that the abundant access to birth control that anti abortionists claim is available to our sex-crazed girls and women, isn’t so abundant after all.
“Women’s health experts suspect there are still several barriers to contraception for young women, particularly since the United States still uses the outdated policy of tying oral birth control pills to a prescription. ‘Many contraceptives are short-acting and require a lot of action on the part of a woman,’ Dr. Kari Braaten, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital who wasn’t involved with the study, pointed out. ‘Using a condom, having a condom, going to the store or pharmacy to get one. Refilling the pill, taking it every day, getting a prescription refilled. Travel and moving. So many issues make these contraceptive methods difficult to use or to be consistent about.’”
I can personally attest to the fact that we are not always “prepared” for sex. And it can indeed be a pain in the ass to get a birth control prescription (like in my case, when your doctor insists that you’re too fat). The report also cites costs and stigma as obstacles to accessing birth control. Additionally, some women may not be able to or know how to insist that a resistant partner use a condom. And the constant attack on women’s sexuality and choices via religion, conservatism, and patriarchy is indeed affecting whether or not women are taking control of their family planning.
Studies like this one and their analyses should remind us why it is so damn important to keep conversations about women’s health and family planning among women and their families and medical professionals. It highlights exactly how harmful legislation and policies (e.g.; attacks on comprehensive sex education and women’s health services like those provided at local Planned Parenthood clinics) are a hindrance to women effectively preventing unwanted pregnancies.