Last week an MSN poll found that 83 percent of Americans think there should be more research on birth control, even though "[m]odern science has given Americans a wide range of birth control options."
How presumptuous of MSN to suggest that Americans wrongly feel a need for more research on birth control! The authors of this brief on the poll must be comfortable holding women and women alone responsible for preventing pregnancy because modern science has only given women a wide range of birth control options. Men have almost none.
Of course, having (almost) all the birth control options is a burden and a blessing.
On the one hand, it is women who must bring their bodies to clinics and hospitals and subject them, in the name of family planning, to poking and prodding, only to leave chemically-altered, fitted, patched, pricked, or tied (and resolved to suffer side effects). It is women who must remember to take pills, refill prescriptions, and (re)place products.
On the other hand, women always know whether they are using birth control, how effective their method is, and how diligently they use it. This, certainly, gives women a peace of mind that men only experience at the extremes of relationships: condoms for those short-term flings and false starts, sterilization after a good long go.
Men who want to take responsibility for family planning and/or want the peace of mind of knowing that they themselves can act to avoid an unplanned pregnancy have almost no options. We need more research on birth control so that men can have the burden and the blessing of submitting their bodies to the altar of family planning. It's only fair.
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