Women have long lamented the unequal burden they
shoulder in the area of contraception. Today
researchers are reportedly moving closer to
perfecting a male contraceptive that is free of
side effects, easy to take, and reversible. But
do women really want a male birth control pill?
Power is the
reward which comes with responsibility. For
example, during the Cold War Americans
complained about the money and manpower spent
protecting a reputedly ungrateful world from
communism. Yet these sacrifices also helped give
the United States great geopolitical power, with
its attendant perks and privileges.
while women legitimately complain that biology
has condemned them to bear the burden of
contraception, this burden also gives women
control over one of the most important parts of
any human being’s life--reproduction. The male
birth control pill will shift much of that
control from women to men. Is the following
conversation far away?
Woman #1: “My
[husband, boyfriend, significant other] is
selfish. He's on the pill and won’t get off.
asked him to stop taking it but he always says
he’s not ready. He just won’t grow up. I don’t
know what to do.”
“That’s what the pill has given men—a right to
be perpetual adolescents. It’s given them veto
power over women who want to have children.”
stigma that will develop against men who take
the pill, the pill will be a success. While most
women are responsible and want to have children
with a willing, committed partner, studies show
that lack of reproductive control can be a major
problem for men today. For example, the National
Scruples and Lies Survey 2004 polled 5,000 women
in the United Kingdom for That’s Life!
magazine. According to that survey, 42% of women
claim they would lie about contraception in
order to get pregnant, regardless of the wishes
of their partners.
Jo Checkley, the editor of
That’s Life!, is correct when she says
“to deliberately get pregnant when your partner
doesn’t want a baby is playing Russian roulette
with other people’s lives."
research conducted by Joyce
Abma of the
Center for Health Statistics
Piccinino of Cornell University, over a million
American births each year result from
pregnancies which men did not intend.
male pill will fill a genuine economic need.
Child support levels are rising, generally
comprising 15-25% of take-home pay for one
child, in addition to add-ons for child care,
health care, and other costs. There is also a
trend towards extending child support
obligations beyond the age of 18, and child
support enforcement is increasingly wide-ranging
men realize that it’s difficult to remain a part
of their children’s lives once the relationship
with the children’s mother has broken down,
particularly if the children were born outside
of marriage. The pill will help ensure that men
only have children in the context that’s best
for men--a stable marriage.
The advent of
the female birth control pill greatly aided
women’s struggle for autonomy and fulfillment.
The male birth control pill will also create
great changes, but these changes will not be to
some women’s liking. Be careful what you ask
for—you might get it.
This column was
first published in Newsday (4/11/05).
Sacks' columns on men's and fathers' issues have appeared in dozens of America's
largest newspapers. Glenn can be reached via his website at
via email at Glenn@GlennSacks.com.
His Side Shows: