Human Rights Careers

10 Essential Essays About Women’s Reproductive Rights

“Reproductive rights” let a person decide whether they want to have children, use contraception, or terminate a pregnancy. Reproductive rights also include access to sex education and reproductive health services. Throughout history, the reproductive rights of women in particular have been restricted. Girls and women today still face significant challenges. In places that have seen reproductive rights expand, protections are rolling back. Here are ten essential essays about reproductive rights:

“Our Bodies, Ourselves: Reproductive Rights”

bell hooks Published in Feminism Is For Everyone (2014)

This essay opens strong: when the modern feminism movement started, the most important issues were the ones linked to highly-educated and privileged white women. The sexual revolution led the way, with “free love” as shorthand for having as much sex as someone wanted with whoever they wanted. This naturally led to the issue of unwanted pregnancies. Birth control and abortions were needed.

Sexual freedom isn’t possible without access to safe, effective birth control and the right to safe, legal abortion. However, other reproductive rights like prenatal care and sex education were not as promoted due to class bias. Including these other rights more prominently might have, in hooks’ words, “galvanized the masses.” The right to abortion in particular drew the focus of mass media. Including other reproductive issues would mean a full reckoning about gender and women’s bodies. The media wasn’t (and arguably still isn’t) ready for that.

“Racism, Birth Control, and Reproductive Rights”

Angela Davis Published in Women, Race, & Class (1981)

Davis’ essay covers the birth control movement in detail, including its race-based history. Davis argues that birth control always included racism due to the belief that poor women (specifically poor Black and immigrant women) had a “moral obligation” to birth fewer children. Race was also part of the movement from the beginning because only wealthy white women could achieve the goals (like more economic and political freedom) driving access to birth control.

In light of this history, Davis emphasizes that the fight for reproductive freedom hasn’t led to equal victories. In fact, the movements driving the gains women achieved actively neglected racial inequality. One clear example is how reproductive rights groups ignored forced sterilization within communities of color. Davis ends her essay with a call to end sterilization abuse.

“Reproductive Justice, Not Just Rights”

Dorothy Roberts Published in Dissent Magazine (2015)

Dorothy Roberts, author of Killing the Black Body and Fatal Invention , describes attending the March for Women’s Lives. She was especially happy to be there because co-sponsor SisterSong (a collective founded by 16 organizations led by women of color) shifted the focus from “choice” to “social justice.” Why does this matter? Roberts argues that the rhetoric of “choice” favors women who have options that aren’t available to low-income women, especially women of color. Conservatives face criticism for their stance on reproductive rights, but liberals also cause harm when they frame birth control as the solution to global “overpopulation” or lean on fetal anomalies as an argument for abortion choice.

Instead of “the right to choose,” a reproductive justice framework is necessary. This requires a living wage, universal healthcare, and prison abolition. Reproductive justice goes beyond the current pro-choice/anti-choice rhetoric that still favors the privileged.

“The Color of Choice: White Supremacy and Reproductive Justice”

Loretta J. Ross, SisterSong Published in Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology (2016)

White supremacy in the United States has always created different outcomes for its ethnic populations. The method? Population control. Ross points out that even a glance at reproductive politics in the headlines makes it clear that some women are encouraged to have more children while others are discouraged. Ross defines “reproductive justice,” which goes beyond the concept of “rights.” Reproductive justice is when reproductive rights are “embedded in a human rights and social justice framework.”

In the essay, Ross explores topics like white supremacy and population control on both the right and left sides of politics. She acknowledges that while the right is often blunter in restricting women of color and their fertility, white supremacy is embedded in both political aisles. The essay closes with a section on mobilizing for reproductive justice, describing SisterSong (where Ross is a founding member) and the March for Women’s Lives in 2004.

“Abortion Care Is Not Just For Cis Women”

Sachiko Ragosta Published in Ms. Magazine (2021)

Cisgender women are the focus of abortion and reproductive health services even though nonbinary and trans people access these services all the time. In their essay, Ragosta describes the criticism Ibis Reproductive Health received when it used the term “pregnant people.” The term alienates women, the critics said, but acting as if only cis women need reproductive care is simply inaccurate. As Ragosta writes, no one is denying that cis women experience pregnancy. The reaction to more inclusive language around pregnancy and abortion reveals a clear bias against trans people.

Normalizing terms like “pregnant people” help spaces become more inclusive, whether it’s in research, medical offices, or in day-to-day life. Inclusiveness leads to better health outcomes, which is essential considering the barriers nonbinary and gender-expansive people face in general and sexual/reproductive care.

“We Cannot Leave Black Women, Trans People, and Gender Expansive People Behind: Why We Need Reproductive Justice”

Karla Mendez Published in Black Women Radicals

Mendez, a freelance writer and (and the time of the essay’s publication) a student studying Interdisciplinary Studies, Political Science, and Women’s and Gender Studies, responds to the Texas abortion ban. Terms like “reproductive rights” and “abortion rights” are part of the mainstream white feminist movement, but the benefits of birth control and abortions are not equal. Also, as the Texas ban shows, these benefits are not secure. In the face of this reality, it’s essential to center Black people of all genders.

In her essay, Mendez describes recent restrictive legislation and the failure of the reproductive rights movement to address anti-Blackness, transphobia, food insecurity, and more. Groups like SisterSong have led the way on reproductive justice. As reproductive rights are eroded in the United States, the reproductive rights movement needs to focus on justice.

“Gee’s Bend: A Reproductive Justice Quilt Story From the South”

Mary Lee Bendolph Published in Radical Reproductive Justice (2017)

One of Mary Lee Bendolph’s quilt designs appears as the cover of Radical Reproductive Justice. She was one of the most important strip quilters associated with Gee’s Bend, Alabama. During the Civil Rights era, the 700 residents of Gee’s Bend were isolated and found it hard to vote or gain educational and economic power outside the village. Bendolph’s work didn’t become well-known outside her town until the mid-1990s.

Through an interview by the Souls Grown Foundation, we learn that Bendolph didn’t receive any sex education as a girl. When she became pregnant in sixth grade, she had to stop attending school. “They say it was against the law for a lady to go to school and be pregnant,” she said, because it would influence the other kids. “Soon as you have a baby, you couldn’t never go to school again.”

“Underground Activists in Brazil Fight for Women’s Reproductive Rights”

Alejandra Marks Published in The North American Congress on Latin America (2021)

While short, this essay provides a good introduction to abortion activism in Brazil, where abortion is legal only in the case of rape, fetal anencephaly, or when a woman’s life is at risk. The reader meets “Taís,” a single mother faced with an unwanted pregnancy. With no legal options, she researched methods online, including teas and pills. She eventually connected with a lawyer and activist who walked her through using Cytotec, a medication she got online. The activist stayed on the phone while Taís completed her abortion at home.

For decades, Latin American activists have helped pregnant people get abortion medications while wealthy Brazilians enter private clinics or travel to other countries. Government intimidation makes activism risky, but the stakes are high. Hundreds of Brazilians die each year from dangerous abortion methods. In the past decade, religious conservatives in Congress have blocked even mild reform. Even if a new president is elected, Brazil’s abortion rights movement will fight an uphill battle.

“The Ambivalent Activist”

Lauren Groff Published in Fight of the Century: Writers Reflect on 100 years of Landmark ACLU Cases (2020)

Before Roe v. Wade, abortion regulation around the country was spotty. 37 states still had near-bans on the procedure while only four states had repealed anti-abortion laws completely. In her essay, Groff summarizes the case in accessible, engaging prose. The “Jane Roe” of the case was Norma McCorvey. When she got pregnant, she’d already had two children, one of whom she’d given up for adoption. McCorvey couldn’t access an abortion provider because the pregnancy didn’t endanger her life. She eventually connected with two attorneys: Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee. In 1973 on January 2, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that abortion was a fundamental right.

Norma McCorvey was a complicated woman. She later became an anti-choice activist (in an interview released after her death, she said Evangelical anti-choice groups paid her to switch her position), but as Groff writes, McCorvey had once been proud that it was her case that gave women bodily autonomy.

“The Abortion I Didn’t Want”

Caitlin McDonnell Published in Salon (2015) and Choice Words: Writers on Abortion (2020)

While talking about abortion is less demonized than in the past, it’s still fairly unusual to hear directly from people who’ve experienced it. It’s certainly unusual to hear more complicated stories. Caitlin McDonnell, a poet and teacher from Brooklyn, shares her experience. In clear, raw prose, this piece brings home what can be an abstract “issue” for people who haven’t experienced it or been close to someone who has.

In debates about abortion rights, those who carry the physical and emotional effects are often neglected. Their complicated feelings are weaponized to serve agendas or make judgments about others. It’s important to read essays like McDonnell’s and hear stories as nuanced and multi-faceted as humans themselves.

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About the author, emmaline soken-huberty.

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.

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Birth Control (Argumentative Essay Sample)

Table of Contents

Birth Control

One of the most debated aspects today is whether to control birth or let nature take its course. Before the 20th century, sex was a sensitive issue, and it was reserved for people in marriage. This was a time when the members of the society honored moral behaviors and abstinence was one of the core values. Birth control was highly condemned as the morals of the society would prevent negative issues such as abortion although a lack of birth control let to a high population which was dangerous for the limited resources. In the late 20th century, the societies had lost morals and people engaged in sex anyhow leading to unplanned pregnancies and abortions that put the lives of the women at risk. To prevent such risk behaviors and to control the escalated population, countries began legalizing birth control, and today almost every country has adopted birth control. While some people still protest birth control, it is a good idea as it helps women to improve their health, control population and reduce joblessness and poverty in the modern societies.

Birth control helps women to prevent pregnancy until when the body has recovered from the previous birth and conceive again when in good health. Without birth control, women would get pregnant at short intervals leading to deteriorated health, emotional and psychological disturbances which adversely affect their health condition. Some would resort to abortions when they get unplanned pregnancy, putting their lives at risk and also risking infertility. Hence, birth control helps women avoid such scenarios that put their health at risk.

Also, birth control has greatly helped in controlling the exploding human population and contributes towards peaceful nations. If it were not for birth control, the population would have gotten out of control. The consequences of overpopulation are clear. The high population would augment the scramble for limited resources which would lead to crisis and eventually spark a war among the people. There have been instances where pastoralists in developing countries fight over the pasture, how about if the people were competing for a scarce resource? People would fight over the scarce resources leading to insecurity and hostile world to live in. Thus, birth control is important in controlling overpopulation and preventing its problems.

Also, birth control is necessary because it prevents joblessness and poverty. Uncontrolled and frequent pregnancies deny both spouses time to work as they nurse the children. This reduces their working days in a year lowering productivity. Aside, the frequent births will contribute to many children depending on the less productive parents. This results in high poverty levels. Birth control would help in controlling pregnancies and allowing both parents to have time for work. Thus, birth control creates time for job seeking and reduces poverty as the parents earn incomes.

On the other hand, opponents would argue that birth control interferes with nature and prevents the conception of more beneficial human beings to God’s creation. However, this argument should not be welcomed since it does not consider the danger of overpopulation as enumerated above. Another counter argument would be that birth control measures lead to health risks such as high blood pressure and weight gain. However, birth control methods such as the use of condoms and vasectomy do not pose any risks. Furthermore, birth control methods have been improved to prevent side effects. Hence, birth control stands out beneficial to humankind.

Therefore, birth control is beneficial to man as it helps in improving women health status, controlling overpopulation to prevent negative issues such as crimes and war and minimizing joblessness and poverty. Birth control limits population growth and reduces scramble for few resources. It also helps women to plan pregnancies and have time for work hence reducing a number of non-working women and reduces poverty levels. It has prevented a situation whereby women would have children frequently as if birth machines and allowed them time to recover their health from previous births. Ideally, birth control is necessary for the world nations.

birth control argumentative essay

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111 Birth control Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

Inside This Article

111 Birth Control Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

Birth control is a highly debated and controversial topic that has been discussed for decades. With its widespread availability and various methods, birth control has become a crucial aspect of reproductive health. If you are assigned an essay on birth control, it is essential to choose a compelling topic that will engage your readers and demonstrate your knowledge on the subject. To help you get started, here are 111 birth control essay topic ideas and examples:

  • The evolution of birth control methods throughout history.
  • The moral and ethical implications of birth control.
  • The impact of birth control on women's empowerment.
  • The correlation between access to birth control and reduced abortion rates.
  • The effectiveness and safety of hormonal birth control methods.
  • The cultural and societal attitudes towards birth control in different countries.
  • The role of birth control in family planning.
  • The influence of religion on birth control decisions.
  • The relationship between birth control and population control.
  • The impact of birth control on sexual behavior and attitudes.
  • The accessibility and affordability of birth control in low-income communities.
  • The controversy surrounding emergency contraception (the morning-after pill).
  • The role of male contraception in preventing unwanted pregnancies.
  • The impact of birth control on mental health.
  • The correlation between birth control use and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • The benefits and drawbacks of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods.
  • The influence of pharmaceutical companies on birth control accessibility.
  • The impact of birth control on economic stability and career advancement for women.
  • The role of birth control education in schools.
  • The relationship between birth control and reproductive rights.
  • The impact of birth control on maternal and infant health outcomes.
  • The effectiveness of natural birth control methods (e.g., fertility awareness).
  • The influence of social media on birth control decisions among young adults.
  • The impact of birth control on the LGBTQ+ community.
  • The role of birth control in reducing teenage pregnancy rates.
  • The impact of birth control on breastfeeding and lactation.
  • The correlation between birth control use and reduced menstrual pain.
  • The influence of cultural norms and traditions on birth control decisions.
  • The role of birth control in reducing maternal mortality rates.
  • The impact of birth control on sexual satisfaction and pleasure.
  • The relationship between birth control and gender equality.
  • The effectiveness of male sterilization (vasectomy) as a birth control method.
  • The influence of political ideologies on birth control policies.
  • The impact of birth control on the environment.
  • The correlation between birth control use and educational attainment.
  • The role of birth control in reducing infant mortality rates.
  • The accessibility and usage of birth control among marginalized communities.
  • The influence of media portrayal on birth control perceptions.
  • The impact of birth control on menstrual irregularities.
  • The effectiveness and acceptance of non-hormonal birth control methods.
  • The relationship between birth control and sexual consent.
  • The role of birth control in preventing reproductive coercion.
  • The impact of birth control on gender dynamics within relationships.
  • The correlation between birth control use and reduced teenage substance abuse.
  • The influence of healthcare policies on birth control access.
  • The impact of birth control on menstrual hygiene management.
  • The effectiveness of birth control education programs in schools.
  • The relationship between birth control and maternal mental health.
  • The role of birth control in reducing unintended pregnancies among college students.
  • The impact of birth control on body image and self-esteem.
  • The correlation between birth control use and reduced domestic violence rates.
  • The influence of peer pressure on birth control decisions.
  • The impact of birth control on the LGBTQ+ youth mental health.
  • The effectiveness of hormonal birth control methods in managing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  • The relationship between birth control and sexual consent among adolescents.
  • The role of birth control in reducing child marriages.
  • The impact of birth control on the gender wage gap.
  • The correlation between birth control use and reduced maternal depression.
  • The influence of sex education programs on birth control knowledge and usage.
  • The impact of birth control on women's healthcare access in developing countries.
  • The effectiveness of birth control in preventing ovarian and endometrial cancers.
  • The relationship between birth control and body autonomy.
  • The role of birth control in reducing infant mortality among minority communities.
  • The impact of birth control on menstrual migraines.
  • The correlation between birth control use and reduced HIV transmission rates.
  • The influence of parental consent laws on birth control access for minors.
  • The impact of birth control on male fertility and reproductive health.
  • The effectiveness of birth control methods for women with disabilities.
  • The relationship between birth control and sexual satisfaction among older adults.
  • The role of birth control in reducing maternal disabilities.
  • The impact of birth control on menstrual disorders (e.g., endometriosis, fibroids).
  • The correlation between birth control use and reduced gender-based violence.
  • The influence of abstinence-only education on birth control decisions.
  • The impact of birth control on sexual desire and libido.
  • The effectiveness of emergency contraception in preventing pregnancies.
  • The relationship between birth control and reproductive justice.
  • The role of birth control in reducing maternal substance abuse.
  • The impact of birth control on menstrual-related absenteeism in schools and workplaces.
  • The correlation between birth control use and reduced maternal stress.
  • The influence of healthcare provider bias on birth control access.
  • The impact of birth control on sexual consent in long-term relationships.
  • The effectiveness of birth control in preventing cervical and uterine cancers.
  • The relationship between birth control and body positivity.
  • The role of birth control in reducing infant mortality among low-income families.
  • The impact of birth control on menstrual-related mood disorders (e.g., PMDD).
  • The correlation between birth control use and reduced sexual coercion rates.
  • The influence of sex education on birth control decisions among teenagers.
  • The impact of birth control on women's career choices and opportunities.
  • The effectiveness of birth control methods for women with chronic illnesses.
  • The relationship between birth control and sexual satisfaction among LGBTQ+ individuals.
  • The role of birth control in reducing maternal malnutrition.
  • The impact of birth control on menstrual-related chronic pain.
  • The correlation between birth control use and reduced adolescent substance abuse.
  • The influence of religious exemptions on birth control access.
  • The impact of birth control on intergenerational poverty.
  • The effectiveness of birth control in preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • The relationship between birth control and reproductive health disparities.
  • The role of birth control in reducing maternal substance use disorders.
  • The impact of birth control on menstrual-related sleep disorders.
  • The correlation between birth control use and reduced maternal anxiety.
  • The influence of cultural taboos on birth control decisions.
  • The impact of birth control on menstrual-related eating disorders.
  • The effectiveness of birth control methods in preventing ectopic pregnancies.
  • The relationship between birth control and sexual satisfaction among survivors of sexual assault.

Remember to choose a topic that interests you and aligns with your essay's objective. Conduct thorough research, gather supporting evidence, and present a well-structured argument to effectively convey your ideas. Good luck with your birth control essay!

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Home — Essay Samples — Nursing & Health — Public Health Issues — Birth Control

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Birth Control Essay Examples

Birth control essay topics and outline examples, essay title 1: birth control methods and their impact on reproductive health and family planning.

Thesis Statement: This essay explores various birth control methods, their effectiveness, and their impact on reproductive health and the ability to make informed family planning decisions.

  • Introduction
  • Overview of Birth Control Methods: Contraception Options and Their Mechanisms
  • Effectiveness and Safety: Evaluating the Reliability and Risks of Different Methods
  • Reproductive Health: Discussing the Positive and Negative Effects of Birth Control
  • Family Planning: Examining the Role of Birth Control in Decision-Making
  • Access and Education: Addressing Barriers and Promoting Awareness
  • Conclusion: Empowering Individuals to Make Informed Choices

Essay Title 2: The Societal Impact of Birth Control: Shaping Gender Equality, Family Dynamics, and Healthcare Policies

Thesis Statement: This essay delves into the societal consequences of birth control, including its role in promoting gender equality, influencing family structures, and shaping healthcare policies.

  • Gender Equality: Analyzing How Birth Control Empowers Women and Promotes Equal Opportunities
  • Family Dynamics: Exploring Changes in Family Size, Planning, and Roles
  • Healthcare Policies: Investigating the Accessibility and Regulation of Birth Control
  • Ethical Considerations: Discussing Moral and Religious Perspectives
  • Global Impact: Examining Birth Control in the Context of Population Control and Development
  • Conclusion: Reflecting on Birth Control's Evolving Role in Society

Essay Title 3: Birth Control Education: Promoting Comprehensive Sexual Health Programs for Informed Choices and Safer Practices

Thesis Statement: This essay advocates for comprehensive sexual health education programs that equip individuals with knowledge about birth control options, safe practices, and informed decision-making.

  • Sexual Health Education: The Importance of Providing Comprehensive and Accurate Information
  • Birth Control Methods: Teaching About Options, Effectiveness, and Risks
  • Safe Practices: Promoting Responsible and Consensual Sexual Behavior
  • Addressing Myths and Misconceptions: Dispelling Common Misinformation
  • Role of Schools and Parents: Collaborative Approaches to Sexual Health Education
  • Conclusion: Fostering a Knowledgeable and Empowered Youth

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birth control argumentative essay

Birth Control

1 empowerment through choice: the evolution and impact of birth control.

The Evolution of Women’s Control over Reproductive Choices It’s crazy how something so small in the past can grow to be something so massive in a short amount of time. Over time, women have been mistreated, underappreciated, and have been forced to not have control of many different situations. But over time, women have regained […]

2 Media Framing and the Birth Control Movement: Reproductive Rights Struggle

Struggles Amplified: Media’s Role in Reproductive Rights Debates In July 2018, Republican Congressman Jason Lewis’s inappropriate and sexist views about women were revealed in a CNN article. The congressman, who is known to be controversial, said that women who voted in favor of health insurance coverage for birth control “were not human beings and were […]

3 OTC Birth Control: Revolutionizing Access for Women’s Health

Executive Summary Contraception is effective in improving health and well-being in women while reducing health care costs from unintended pregnancies and abortion. Women’s access to birth control is inadequate, and oral contraception should be available over the counter in Kentucky. Introduction Contraception is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as one of […]

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4 Navigating the Intricacies of Birth Control: Unveiling its Impact on Cardiovascular Health

Abstract: Oral Contraceptives (OC) and Birth control pills can cause a lot of side effects in the human body. Taking birth control pills increases the risk of having a stroke or heart attack. Based on the case report, a woman entered the hospital with unknown causes of how she was having artery blocking. That woman […]

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Argumentative Essay On Birth Control As A Deterrent

Type of paper: Argumentative Essay

Topic: Pregnancy , Women , Education , Family , Youth , Children , Teenagers , Birth Control

Words: 2500

Published: 11/27/2019

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INTRODUCTION

The issue of teenage sex is a very controversial one – today’s media culture increasingly fetishizes youth, to the point where sex symbols and fashion models appear younger and younger every year. Young people are learning more and more about sex earlier in life, and thus are engaging in it at younger ages. This, of course, has given rise to teenage pregnancies and STDs, as they are becoming more commonplace and less of a controversy than in previous generations, and thus less readily avoided. Despite the glorification of teen pregnancy in shows like Maury Povich and films like Juno, having an unwanted child is a big decision for a teen, and one that should not be taken lightly. Given the choice between abstinence, which is frowned upon in such a sexually liberated youth culture, and the option to explore the urges that come naturally at puberty, many teenagers with the option choose the latter.

Given the virtually unstoppable presence of sex in young people’s lives, it would naturally be in their best interests to provide them with all the same methods of contraception available to adults in order to keep them as protected as possible. When I was in high school, puberty was a very rough time for me. All manner of hormones were rushing through my body, and I was starting to learn more about myself and about the girls at school I liked. All of my classmates and friends were getting girlfriends, and I would learn about their sex lives through their gossip, eventually picking up a girlfriend of my own and learning for myself. While it all seemed very carefree, and it was nice to explore my sexuality during the time I was most curious about it, I was understandably worried. What if I got a girl pregnant? What would I do? I’m doing my best to be safe, but my girlfriend at the time was not able to get birth control, because she was not permitted to by both her parents and doctor. It was tough for her to admit that she was sexually active, but wanted to make sure she was as safe as possible.

In light of my experiences with sex as a teenager, and the worries that I have, I am sure that other teenagers of both sexes worry about learning about themselves without the proper level of protection that is afforded to adults who are sexually active. Given my interest in this issue, I posit that oral contraceptives should be administered to teenagers and made available to them, in order to prevent unwanted and unaffordable pregnancies due to an improperly protected sex life.

There are many birth control methods available, the most controversial one (where teenagers are concerned) being the combined oral contraceptive pill, which has a perfect use rate of .3%. This means that, if taken perfectly, a women has a less than 1% chance of getting pregnant, making it the most effective contraceptive method currently available. However, in many areas, teenagers cannot get a prescription for this birth control unless their parents are notified. This can be an uncomfortable subject for many teens; while it can be argued that their parents have a right to know, the fear of their parents finding out about their sexually active status can dissuade them from going in the first place. However, they still engage in sexual activity, making the chances of getting pregnant all the higher (Checkland and Wong, 1999). Nearly 12 million women in America use the pill (82% of women studied), making it a very prevalent and widely used method of contraception (Mosher et al., 2004). With this high statistic in mind, it is unclear exactly why teenagers should be prevented from using this resource of their own volition.

There are many arguments on either side for whether or not to administer birth control to teenagers. The arguments in favor of their availability stem from the desire to protect all sexually active members of society, including teenagers, from having children before they are ready. On the other side of the coin, opposing arguments believe it encourages sex and removes the consequences of such arguably reckless and dangerous actions, and does not promote ethical behavior in young people. This essay will explore these arguments in order to determine which ones have more logical, ethical and statistical validity.

Opponents of supplying birth control for teenagers believe that it places an extra burden on the health care system to provide teenagers with oral contraceptives. Expanding the creation and prescription of birth control pills and other methods of contraception would cost extra money, and would make the parents have to pay more for something that they may not emotionally agree with for their children, but could agree to merely for the sake of the child’s safety. The notification of the parents when a child asks for a prescription for birth control is a way to make sure that the parents are aware that their child is sexually active, particularly when they are responsible for them. As a result, it makes sense that they should be as informed as possible in an aspect of their life that can result in dramatic changes to their family (e.g. pregnancy).

Having a child is an expensive investment that can cost far more money than a teenager can reasonably afford. In California, for example, a child can eat up 40% of the average income for a single parent family. Abortions are also an expensive endeavor, costing hundreds of dollars and taking young women through expensive medical procedures. There is also the potential for emotional distress and anxiety that result from the abortion of a child that simply cannot be cared for if carried to term (Checkland and Wong, 1999). With these things in mind, it can be quite clear why it would cost less to have a teenager on the pill rather than get pregnant, regardless of the outcome.

There are those who believe that giving birth control to teenagers will encourage promiscuity, as they will believe they can simply have consequence-free sex as a result of the provided birth control. Opponents cite the danger of pregnancy as a deterrent for teenage and premarital sex, due to the aforementioned financial and emotional toll a child can have on a still-financially dependent child. Therefore, if oral contraceptives were introduced to teenagers, it would virtually remove the danger of pregnancy, leaving nothing stopping them from having sex indiscriminately. There is the implication cited by opponents of birth control for teenagers that it condones their sexual activity, something few but the most open-minded are comfortable doing.

There is no substantial, direct connection to the availability of birth control and frequency of sex among teenagers. According to statistics, teenage sex rates remain fairly steady, and it is pregnancy rates that drop as a consequence of the pill being used. This assertion is often thought to be a spurious claim meant to portray those who are interested in their reproductive health as merely looking for a way to have sex without consequences. This ignores the emotional consequences of sexual frustration, or all manner of emotional and mental barriers that also prevent teenagers from becoming indiscriminately sexual. The connection between the pill and promiscuity is a weak one at best, and it should not prevent those who wish to have responsible sex from doing so.

There are numerous non-sexual health benefits found in oral contraceptives for those who take them. Apart from preventing pregnancy, many women take them in order to inhibit menstrual flow and pain during menstruation; they also lower the chances of acquiring ovarian and endometrial cancers by nearly 50% (Bast et al., 2007). All-cause mortality is also lowered in women who take oral contraceptives, making the administration of the pill more than strictly a sexual health concern – it also positively affects general health.

Opponents believe that the administration of birth control will lead them to use fewer preventative methods of safe sex, and therefore increase the likelihood of getting an STD. One of the primary barriers in granting oral contraceptives to teenagers is that they will treat ‘the pill’ as a catch-all safe sex method, and ignore the chances of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, which are not lowered through the use of oral contraception. This ties in with their thought that more sex will occur if teenagers believe there are no negative consequences.

Concerns about lack of comprehensive protection offered by birth control could be remedied through more comprehensive sex education, in lieu of abstinence-only education. As it stands now, many segments of the country feature an abstinence-only education in their schools. These programs offer little to no information on contraceptives, and even stress failure rates for condoms and other methods of birth control. The result is a scare tactic meant to frighten teenagers from having sex, as they are told that abstinence is the only reasonable method of birth control. While it is the most effective, these programs downplay the relative safety of a great number of birth control methods, such as oral contraceptives. Not only do these programs leave out important information on how to have safe sex, these programs offer misleading or medically inaccurate information in order to paint an unreasonably negative picture of birth control. Congressional studies have shown that some abstinence-only programs claim that even genital touch will lead to pregnancy, and link abortion strongly with suicides (Connolly, 2004). There are more than 100 abstinence-only programs in the country, which have educated millions of children inaccurately on the subject of sex. The inefficiency of abstinence-only sex education is shown in the increase of STDs and pregnancy rates in areas where that is the only available sex education; those students are likely not taught the proper use of contraception, and therefore are at greater risk for pregnancy or disease transmission (DiCenso et al., 2002). This is something that needs to be remedied through the greater use of comprehensive sex education programs in schools. These programs talk accurately about birth control as an effective means of preventing unwanted pregnancies and STDs, in addition to abstinence. The benefit of comprehensive sex education is that it addresses the concern that teenagers will only take the pill and still get STDs. However, these programs will educate teens as fully as possible on the effects and success rates of these methods, allowing teenagers to be as comprehensively informed on what their options are (Checkland and Wong, 1999).

The American discomfort with the subject of sex is one of the primary motivators behind the opposition to teenage birth control. Many of the arguments behind the opposition movement to teenage birth control stigmatizes teenage men and women who have sex as delinquents who are doing something they should not be doing. They treat the fact that teenagers are sexually active as the problem, and seek to punish them by not allowing them the same safety net that adults are allowed in their sex lives. The most difficult thing for many parents to accept is to think of their child as a sexual being, and as a result they wish to prolong that childhood as long as possible. By denying the full nature of their children’s desires and activities, many parents and officials are allowing arguably adult activities to go on without the proper safeguards, just hoping that something bad does not happen. Unless oral contraceptives are made available to teenagers, that willing ignorance can turn into an unwanted pregnancy that could affect the entire family for years to come.

In conclusion, birth control should be administered to teenagers, or made available, in order to make sure that they are protected from unwanted pregnancy. Given the rate at which teenagers are having sex, and the younger ages at which it is becoming culturally acceptable, the presence of sex in young people’s lives is clear. As a result, they should be given every opportunity to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies. The very fact that they would seek out birth control means that they are interested in protecting themselves, and with the proper, comprehensive sex education schools should provide, they can be as educated as possible about the dangers of unsafe sex, and the other methods of birth control. Combining birth control with other protective methods of contraception can help to prevent both STDs and pregnancy, thus preventing teenagers from being forced to choose between an expensive, unwanted child and a costly, emotionally charged abortion. In light of the incredible costs of both abortions and carrying a child to term and raising them, the comparatively inexpensive option of birth control becomes more feasible. The primary opposition to the argument of birth control administration to teenagers seeks to merely ignore the issue of teenage reproductive health, and believes that they should not be having sex in the first place. However, given the relatively difficult and unreasonable demand that places on an increasingly sexually liberated youth culture, it is a far more feasible measure to make birth control available to them, so they may engage in what is, arguably, a consensual and natural activity that should not be prohibited in extremis. In researching this topic, I learned that my thoughts on the subject of teenage birth control were supported by the evidence and viewpoints I found. I knew that my nervousness about teenage pregnancy was not unfounded, as it would be a financially and emotionally devastating process for any young girl, particularly me. However, with the improvement of sex education and the availability of oral contraceptives, young women like me could have healthy sex lives while still taking whatever measures existed to guard against the potential consequences of unsafe sex.

Works Cited

ACOG. "Birth Control -- Especially for Teens." American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. N.p., 1 June 2011. Web. 4 Sept. 2011. <http://www.acog.org/publications/patient_education/bp112.cfm>. Bast, RC, Brewer M, and Zou C. “Prevention and early detection of ovarian cancer: mission impossible?” Recent Results Cancer Res.174 (2007): 91-100. Checkland, David, and James Wong. Teen pregnancy and parenting: social and ethical issues. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999. Print. Connolly, Ceci. "Some Abstinence Programs Mislead Teens, Report Says (washingtonpost.com)." The Washington Post: National, World & D.C. Area News and Headlines - The Washington Post. Web. 4 Sept. 2011. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26623-2004Dec1.html>. DiCenso, A, G Guyatt, A Willan, and L Griffith. "Interventions to reduce unintended pregnancies among adolescents: systematic review of randomised controlled trials." BMJ 7351 (2002): 1426. Print. Mosher WD, Martinez GM, Chandra A, Abma JC, Willson SJ. "Use of contraception and use of family planning services in the United States: 1982–2002.” Adv Data 350 (2004): 1–36.

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The Editorial Board

The Persistent Threat to Abortion Rights

An illustration of a woman lifting a huge mifepristone pill on her back.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values . It is separate from the newsroom.

The Supreme Court this week heard the first major challenge to abortion rights since it struck down Roe v. Wade two years ago — an attempt to severely limit access to mifepristone, the most commonly used abortion pill in the country, by a group of doctors who are morally opposed to the practice.

The justices seem prepared to throw out the lawsuit. During oral arguments, they questioned whether the doctors had suffered the harm necessary to bring the suit in the first place.

But that should come as small comfort to anyone concerned for the future of reproductive freedom in America. Judges at the state and federal level are ready to further restrict reproductive options and health care access. The presumptive Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, has indicated support for a 15-week national abortion ban. And while the Supreme Court, in overturning Roe, ostensibly left it to each state to decide abortion policy, several states have gone against the will of their voters on abortion or tried to block ballot measures that would protect abortion rights. Anti-abortion forces may have had a tough week in the Supreme Court, but they remain focused on playing and winning a longer game.

Even potential victories for reproductive freedom may prove short-lived: The mifepristone case, for instance, is far from dead. Another plaintiff could bring the same case and have it considered on the merits, a possibility Justice Samuel Alito raised during oral arguments.

“Is there anybody who could challenge in court the lawfulness of what the F.D.A. did here?” he asked the solicitor general, Elizabeth Prelogar. Such a challenge would be exceptionally weak, given that the F.D.A. provided substantial support for its approval and regulatory guidance on the use of mifepristone, but the right-wing justices on the Roberts court may be willing to hear it again anyway. The justices have already illustrated their hostility to the authority of administrative agencies, and that hostility may persist even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence.

Then there is the Comstock Act, a 151-year-old federal law that anti-abortion activists are trying to revive to block the mailing of mifepristone and other abortion medication. During the oral arguments this week, Justices Alito and Clarence Thomas repeatedly expressed their openness to the use of the law, which was pushed by an anti-vice crusader decades before women won the right to vote. If anti-abortion activists can get themselves before a sympathetic court and secure a national injunction on this medication being mailed, they may well be able to block access to abortion throughout the country, including in states where it is legal.

However the mifepristone case turns out, the threats to reproductive rights the justices unleashed by overturning Roe go much further.

The anti-abortion movement is pursuing its aims on many legal fronts. One focus of intense activity are so-called fetal-personhood laws , which endow fetuses (and, in some cases, even fertilized eggs) with the same legal rights as living, breathing human beings. Last month, Alabama’s Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos created through in vitro fertilization were to be protected as “extrauterine children,” relying in part on an 1872 state law. That sent lawmakers in Alabama scrambling to protect a procedure that is highly popular among Republicans and Democrats alike. Three weeks after the court ruling, they passed a law protecting patients and doctors who perform I.V.F. procedures from legal liability.

Fetal-personhood laws can also be used to target access to birth control, embryonic stem cell research and even women who suffer miscarriages.

In eliminating a woman’s constitutional right to choose what happens in her own body, the Supreme Court claimed to be respecting the democratic process by allowing state legislatures to determine whether abortion should be legal, and what, if any, limits should be placed on it. Roe v. Wade had been “egregiously wrong” to wrest a fraught public debate from the American public, Justice Alito wrote in the majority opinion for Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health in 2022. It was “time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

Instead of being settled at the state level, less than two years since the Dobbs ruling the issue of abortion has returned to the court and is likely to continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

The Dobbs ruling has forced a new public debate on abortion, and galvanized Americans’ support for it, which has been strong for decades. Since 1975, a majority of Americans have supported legal abortion in some or all cases, according to polling by Gallup , and that support has increased slightly since Dobbs. The percentage of Americans who think abortion should be illegal in all cases has gone down.

Since Roe was overturned in 2022, in every state where reproductive rights has been on the ballot, from Vermont to Kentucky, the abortion rights side has won . This past Tuesday, the same day that the court heard the mifepristone case, voters in Alabama elected to the state legislature a Democrat who ran on a platform of protecting access to abortion and I.V.F. The candidate, Marilyn Lands, had lost her race in 2022 by seven points; she won this week by 25 points.

There are limits to the state-by-state approach when it comes to protecting bodily autonomy. Some states don’t allow ballot initiatives of the type that have led to abortion rights victories elsewhere. In Ohio and other states, lawmakers have sought to block or overturn attempts by voters to protect abortion rights, and anti-abortion lawmakers in several states have sought to prosecute anyone who helps a woman travel to another state to get an abortion.

In short, there is no silver bullet for reproductive rights. The judiciary is no haven, not as long as the current Supreme Court majority holds; state and lower federal courts aren’t much better, going by the Alabama I.V.F. ruling and the decisions that pushed the mifepristone case to the Supreme Court. At the same time, voter support for reproductive rights won’t make a difference if they can’t use ballot measures to make that support known.

That is why any successful strategy to protect or restore abortion rights must understand reproductive rights and representative democracy as inextricably linked.

That means understanding the stakes of the elections in November. If Mr. Trump’s party wins solid control of the House and Senate, this could put Americans’ reproductive rights at further risk, especially if Republicans first decide to do away with the filibuster. That would lower the threshold for passing legislation such as a 15-week abortion ban , which Mr. Trump seems likely to support .

Voters will be faced with a stark choice: the choice of whether to protect not just reproductive rights, but true equality for women.

Source photograph by Getty Images.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values. It is separate from the newsroom.

From IVF to birth control, Supreme Court abortion pill case could spark challenges to other drugs

Photo illustration of man with gavel hovering over group of pills

WASHINGTON — Vaccines, birth control pills, hormone therapies and fertility drugs would be subject to new litigation if the Supreme Court endorses a challenge to abortion pill mifepristone, pharmaceutical industry experts warn.

When the court on Tuesday weighs whether to roll back Food and Drug Administration findings that made mifepristone more readily available, it is not just access to that particular drug, used for the majority of abortions nationwide, that is on the line.

The pharmaceutical industry has raised the alarm, telling both the justices in court filings and anyone else who will listen that giving individual federal judges the power to cast aside the agency’s scientific health and safety findings would cause chaos within the sector.

It would likely lead to litigation over other drugs, both current and those yet to be approved, on which people have strong feelings.

If the anti-abortion groups win, “anyone with an ideological disagreement, coupled with a scientifically untrained judge, could challenge the FDA’s authority,” said Amanda Banks, a physician and entrepreneur who signed a brief along with dozens of other pharmaceutical executives and companies backing the FDA.

The main pharmaceutical industry group, PhRMA, also filed a brief in support of the government.

Some activists have long railed against certain vaccines, claiming without evidence that they can cause autism. During the Covid-19 pandemic, there were largely unfounded concerns raised by vaccine skeptics that the vaccines were not safe.

Anti-abortion activists, some of whom oppose all contraceptives, have long opposed the morning-after pill, viewing it as akin to abortion despite evidence suggesting otherwise .

LGBTQ activists have called on the FDA to specifically approve the use of hormone therapies for gender-affirming treatments. Groups that oppose gender-affirming care for transgender youth have asked the FDA to prevent puberty blockers from being prescribed to minors.

Other medications that could be subject to challenge include those developed using embryonic stem cells, drugs that treat HIV/AIDS and fertility drugs used for in vitro fertilization, industry experts and others who back the FDA say.

For business leaders, there’s also a concern a ruling against the government could stifle innovation by deterring investors in an industry that relies on billions of dollars in upfront research and development in order to bring drugs to market.

“My biggest concern is the precedent it sets ... could have a chilling effect on investors coming into our business and investing in our innovative companies,” said Paul Hastings, an industry veteran who is the CEO of Nkarta Therapeutics and signed on to the same brief as Banks.

He and others stressed that the FDA is considered the “gold standard” of drug regulation worldwide. For investors, FDA approval is the final part of a rigorous and expensive process. Only 1 in 10 drugs under development ever end up being marketed, Hastings said.

Investors might look for safer bets if FDA approval merely leads to constant litigation, he added.

In court papers , the FDA itself said that no court has ever restricted access to an approved drug “by second-guessing FDA’s expert judgment about the conditions required to ensure that drug’s safe use.”

When the agency in 2016 began the process of lifting restrictions on the drug, its actions were “supported by an exhausting review of a record including dozens of scientific studies and decades of safe use of mifepristone by millions of women,” the brief said.

The challengers, doctors and other medical professionals who oppose abortion argue that FDA failed to sufficiently take into account safety concerns when the restrictions on mifepristone were lifted.

Erin Hawley, a lawyer with conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom, who is arguing the case for the plaintiffs, rejected the notion that the case could have such far-reaching effects, calling it a “red herring.”

She said in an interview that the FDA has not identified any other drug approval that would be threatened.

“The reason being is that what FDA did in deciding to remove long-standing protections for women who choose to take mifepristone is quite extraordinary,” she added.

ADF has no plans to challenge any other drug approvals, a spokeswoman said.

The Supreme Court has a 6-3 conservative majority hostile to abortion rights, as illustrated most starkly by the 2022 ruling that overturned abortion rights landmark Roe v. Wade.

The legal question in Tuesday’s case does not focus on abortion itself but in part on whether the FDA followed the correct processes in easing restrictions on mifepristone.

The plaintiffs sued in a federal court in Texas where the case was guaranteed to be assigned to Matthew Kacsmaryk, a conservative judge appointed by President Donald Trump.

Kacsmaryk in April of last year issued a sweeping ruling that invalidated the FDA’s approval of the drug decades ago.

That ruling was put on hold by the Supreme Court and has subsequently been narrowed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The original approval of mifepristone in 2000 is not at issue before the justices. The case focuses on FDA actions from 2016 onward that made it easier to access the pill, including the initial 2021 decision that made it available by mail, which was finalized last year.

The justices will also probe 2016 decisions to extend the window in which mifepristone could be used to terminate pregnancies from seven weeks’ gestation to 10 weeks and reduce the number of in-person visits for patients from three to one. In another 2016 move, the FDA altered the dosing regimen, finding that a lower dose of mifepristone was sufficient.

The FDA-approved regimen for a medication abortion involves two drugs: mifepristone, which blocks the hormone progesterone, and misoprostol, which induces contractions.

That the justices put Kascmaryk’s ruling on hold could be a sign that a majority is inclined to reject the challenge. Only two of the nine justices, conservatives Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, objected to that decision.

It is possible the court could resolve the case without delving into the knotty legal issues around the FDA’s approval process. The government has argued strenuously that the doctors and others who filed the lawsuit do not have legal standing because they cannot show any injury that can be traced to the FDA’s decisions.

The doctors themselves do not prescribe mifepristone, but they suggest they are injured because they could be required to treat patients who have taken the pill and have serious side effects. As they oppose abortion, any actions they are forced to take to help a woman complete the process would make them complicit, the plaintiffs argued in court papers .

The FDA’s lawyers wrote in the government’s brief that the plaintiffs can at best point at a “hypothetical scenario,” which is not enough to establish standing.

The challengers, the brief stated, “cannot identify even a single case where any of their members has been forced to provide such care.”

birth control argumentative essay

Lawrence Hurley covers the Supreme Court for NBC News.

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