America vs. birth control

In June of this year, the Supreme Court ruled that “closely held” businesses—those that aren’t publicly traded—are not required to provide their employees with birth control if it conflicts with their business’ religious beliefs. This means that over 90% of American businesses can deny their employees coverage for birth control.

I don’t understand why this is even an issue, considering a business is not a human, therefore, cannot have a religion.

I also believe that a woman should have complete control over her own body, without fear of persecution or workplace discrimination.

The U.S. has a long-standing struggle with contraception, even though the majority of the American population supports contraceptives. In fact, married couples only gained the right to use birth control in 1965 when the Supreme Court ruled that couples had a right to privacy regarding their childbearing choices.

However, this still left millions of unmarried women without access to birth control.

It wasn’t until 1972 that birth control was legalized for all citizens, regardless of marital status. Even now, in 2014, there is a stigma attached to unmarried women who use birth control, over 40 years since the ruling.

In comparison, Europe has been on the birth control bandwagon from the start. The majority of European women use contraception and studies have shown that European women are more likely to use birth control than Americans. Three out of four European women use contraceptive, nearly 25 percent more than Americans—in France, nearly 90 percent of women take oral contraceptives.

This has led Europe to have the lowest birth rates in the world. Social scientists have described this as the “contraceptive revolution.” The stigma of birth control is nearly non-existent in Europe, leading more women to be open about using contraceptives.

And it’s not only adult women using birth control in Europe — a majority of teenagers do as well. Birth control is less expensive, often free and easier for teenagers to get in Europe than in the US. There is also a more accepting attitude of teenager’s sexuality — thus encouraging the use of contraception.

When I was 15, I tried to get birth control through my OB-GYN. My request was met with the doctor asking my Southern Baptist mother’s permission before writing me the prescription. Needless to say, I did not get on birth control and was forced to spend a lot more time at church after that.

I’d like to blame America’s religious roots for the lag in acceptance of birth control; however, in more “religiously strict” countries, we still see acceptance and use of birth control, including a majority Catholic Spain. Even Iran, with 90 percent of its citizens practicing Islam, offers free birth control.

In the US, we take sexual well-being as a personal responsibility rather than a public one. This is the reason we take an abstinence-only stance in sexual education classes and the reason why the war over contraception is still a hot topic.

However, if the U.S. changed its mindset on sexuality, we would have less unwanted pregnancies, thus fewer abortions. It’s also been proven that with a wider acceptance and availability of birth control in all forms, including Plan B, there will be less children and families on welfare, making the tax burden for welfare a bit lighter.

If we limit our sexual planning abilities, we limit our ability to make the best possible choices for ourselves, our children and our future.

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