argumentative essay – Need for male birth control – part 2

Restricting birth control to a women-only affair also leaves the men to rely only on trust in cases where they are not ready to support another child. For instance, Campo-Engelstein (22) argues that, even when men use a condom during intercourse, they have to rely often on women to have a separate contraception to lower the risk of unintended pregnancy. This arises out of the attendant risks of the condom busting while having sex or wrong use failing to avert pregnancy. Such a risk is especially poignant for young men who studies (e.g. Smith et al. 39) have revealed are most motivated to use birth control methods to avoid unintended pregnancy. In the study by Smith et al. (39), young men for instance indicated pregnancy concerns and lack of immediate plans for fatherhood to be the core motivators for their use or encouraging their sex partners to use contraceptives. With such concerns, making birth control to be a female prerogative exposes such men to limited autonomy on their reproductive rights. For instance, where society places great importance on marriage, women who have reached the socially perceived marriage age could trick men into marriage by getting pregnant to lure such men into commitment. In Smith et al.’s study (39) one respondent for instance notes of such a scenario where her sex partner faked pregnancy to have him enter into a long-term relationship. Unlike in Smith et al.’s study where such claim turned out to be false, in more severe cases men may be lured into taking care of children they have not sired where women trap them into sex after having unprotected sex with other men and becoming pregnant. Such cases highlight that men also ought to be provided with an option that enables them to have reproductive autonomy without having to rely on the hope that women can be trusted to use contraceptives during sexual intercourse.

The need for men to appreciate their role in birth control also arises with positive indications for a better means for them to participate in such control. Current research for instance indicates possible breakthrough in developing hormonal contraceptive for men that can rival the female pill in popularity (Manetti and Honig 159-170). As noted by Manetti and Honig (167), availability of such an alternative provides men with an option that do not involve irreversible changes such as vasectomy, or loss of sensitivity (as is the case for condoms). In a critique of the book The Male Pill: A Biography of a Technology in the Making, Elson notes that the failure to achieve substantial progress exists due to gender bias, social construction that impedes funding and new ethical twists rather than potential side effects of such medications. For instance, concerning ethical twists, challenges arise in testing the efficacy of such pills since the risk of unintended pregnancy during such trials is placed on bodies (women) on which contraceptives were not tested (Elson 203). On issues of the side effects of such a pill, Elson (202) notes such a case to be evident of the existing gender bias and application of double standards in society, since development of the female pill, whose adverse effects have already been confirmed, did not and does not elicit similarly strong opposition based on health claims. With the indications that the male pill may have lower side effects, verification of which has been hindered by lower participation in research (Manetti and Honig 159-169), its availability offers men a higher incentive to share the responsibility of birth control while reducing disadvantages associated with current ways through which they can take such responsibility.

Despite such propositions, various counterarguments make the consideration for men not to take part in birth control worth of consideration. One of such arguments is the possibility of them engaging in birth control sabotage. Many cases of male partners failing to respect their commitment to adhere to the use birth control methods during sexual intercourse (Trawick 722-724), raises doubts of the overall effectiveness of male birth control realizing intended outcome – preventing unintended pregnancy. In this respect, a question arises as to whether men could be trusted to make decisions that have the interests of women at heart. A cautionary approach, in this respect, would advocate for the need to leave women to be in charge of their reproductive health. However, such a conclusion fails to address the fundamental reasons that make men abscond their family planning duty. In an editorial in the American Journal of Men’s Health, Porche provides one of possible explanations to this. According to Porche, the traditional perception of family planning as a female affair, and subsequent concentration of family planning services on female-centered programs, has challenged the involvement of men in family planning efforts (441). In this respect, it would appear that sensitizing the men of their role in family planning through men-centered programs or all-inclusive programs may encourage them to assume their obligation in family planning, and thus encourage reception of male birth control methods.

Another argument advanced in favor of men not taking part in birth control approaches is the potential drawbacks of such methods such as lowering libido, irreversible operations and lower sensitivity during sexual encounters. However, as noted by Elson (202-203), most of these concerns also apply for women birth control approaches, and hence the core reason for resistance is gender bias or socialization processes that places higher responsibility on women in the aspects of having and raising children. Additionally, the acceptance by men to take part in birth control initiatives offers opportunities that can lead to development of better methods that would avail them of a wide range of opportunities to choose from. For instance, the reception of the pill by women has facilitated the evaluation of its effects thus resulting in development of more effective pills and other methods that seek to alleviate the challenges noted of the pill. As such by perceiving the role of birth control as part of their responsibility as partners in society, men can help in the development of more suitable methods as the clamor to control the global population increases.

The resistance to male birth control arises more due to socialization processes that place a higher responsibility on women in respect to having and raising children than men, rather than the health or other difficulties associated with male contraception approaches. A need for men to take part in birth control arises from various considerations. Firstly, male contraception approaches have been shown to have lower side effects compared to women’s contraception methods. Secondly, male contraceptives are associated with a lower cost compared to corresponding female contraceptives. Thirdly, by appreciating their role in birth control, men can have better autonomy over their reproductive activities, avoiding cases where women cheat them into committing into long-term relationships that they would otherwise avoid. Fourthly, the engagement in birth control offers men opportunities to access better methods, such as male pills, which can subvert the disadvantages currently associated with existing approaches. Nevertheless, having male play a critical role in contraception, just as is the case for women, establishes a potential for birth control sabotage. In this respect, the effects would be more deleterious for women since they are the ones to carry the unintended pregnancy to term, or contend with the dangers of abortion. In view of such findings, more effort should be placed on society education to change the perception that having and raising children is the duty of women, thus encourage men to appreciate their equal duty of taking precautions to avoid unintended pregnancy.

Works Cited

Campo-Engelstein, Lisa. “No More Larking Around! Why We Need Male LARCs” Hastings Center Report 41.5 (2011): 22-26. Web. Project Muse. 10 April 2013.

Elson, Jean. Review. “The Male Pill: A Biography of a Technology in the Making, by Nelly Oudshoorn.” Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews 34.2 (2005): 201-203. Web. Sage Journals Online. 10 April 2013.

Mosher, William D. et al. “Use of Contraception and Use of Family Planning Services in the United States: 1982-2002.” Advance Data From Vital and Health Statistics 350.10 (2004). Web. 10 April 2013.

Pollack Amy E., Lisa J. Thomas and Mark A. Barone. “Female and Male Sterilization.” Contraceptive Technology. 19th ed. Eds. Robert A. Hatcher et al. New York: Ardent Media, 2007. 361-402. Print.

Porche, Demetrius J. Editorial. “Men: The Missing Client in Family Planning.” Editorial. American Journal of Men’s Health 6.6 (2012): 441. Web. Sage Journals Online. 10 April 2013.

Smith, Jennifer L. et al. “Young Males’ Perspectives on Pregnancy, Fatherhood and Condom Use: Where Does Responsibility for Birth Control lie?” Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare 2.1 (2011): 37-42. Web. Science Direct. 10 April 2013.

Trawick, Shane M. “Birth Control Sabotage as Domestic Violence: A Legal Response.” California Law Review 100.3 (2012): 721-760. Web. Academic Search Complete. 10 April 2013.

Trusell, James. “Choosing a Contraceptive: Efficacy, Safety, and Personal Considerations.” Contraceptive Technology. 19th ed. Eds. Robert A. Hatcher et al. New York: Ardent Media, 2007. 19-48. Print.

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