Family planning “advice” that works for no one.

I would like to co-sign this rebuttal by Natasha Chart on the expenses that pregnancy and childbirth tend to incur. I will especially highlight this passage here, as this is the tabula rasa of basically every abortion debate:

Lastly, though she mentioned it first, Fiano complained about my lack of discussion of personal responsibility, lamenting sarcastically that “it’s cruel to expect women to abstain from sex if they aren’t ready for a baby.” In a word, yes. That’s cruel.

Sex drive is basic to human nature. We’ve been having sex as a species for a long time—close to 200,000 years by now if you believe in the same science that gives us miracles like advanced antibiotics and level 3 neonatal intensive care units—and many of us are sick of being made to feel guilty about it.

I’m going to take it as a given that Fiano disapproves of sex outside of marriage. And I’m going to guess that when she talks about personal responsibility, it’s code for the people the forced birth movement always acts like they’re talking about exclusively: childless, unmarried teens and early 20-somethings. (Nothing gets their predominately male audience frothing like young girls having unauthorized sex, and Fiano clearly knows her audience.) This creepy voyeurism is stomach turning and is probably at least as much to blame as widespread racism for the conservative movement’s demographic death spiral.

Even as a married woman, I reject the idea that sex should always be about being ready for a baby. No matter how guilty many people feel in public when they’re shamed into mumbling their agreement about the evils of “irresponsible” sex, not all married people are always ready for a baby, even if they already have children.

To be more clear, if Fiano isn’t planning to join the Quiverfull movement, or isn’t one of the less than 20 percent of Catholics who agree with the church hierarchy on contraception, to suggest that women (not men, naturally) should abstain from sex if we don’t want babies is an extreme minority position. If she is planning to do something like that, well, there’s a reason the Duggars have a reality TV show—because most modern U.S. citizens have decided not to live like that.

Emphasis mine. I should change that clause to “precious few married people are always ready for a baby, especially if they already have children.” When anti-choicers tell us “If you don’t want a baby, then don’t have sex” as if we’re too stupid to have known already that vaginal intercourse is the cause of pregnancy, they’re proposing a system of family planning that nobody actually practices. No one really controls their reproduction by never having sex, ever, in the years when they’re not interested in creating new humans. Try telling a married new dad that not only does he have to wait for his wife to recover from childbirth before he can have sex with her again, he has to wait the next year and a half or so until she’s ready to get pregnant again. Seriously? He’ll be having none of that. The idea isn’t really for long-term abstinence to become the new birth control; the idea is for births to be uncontrolled and for women to take the blame for not putting Bayer aspirin between their knees.

Non-procreative sex isn’t just a part of life, it’s a vital part of building families. The supposedly simple formula of “no sex until you’re ready for babies” is cruel precisely because it’s unrealistic.

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