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Margaret Sanger

Statistics - By: Joi Pinney

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Margaret Sanger Birth Control (Past and Present Statistics)

Margaret Sanger was one of the first women who fought for women's rights to control their bodies and their sexuality. Margaret did not want women not feel that they had no choice in having 10, 11 or sometimes even 14 children, she wanted an option for women, an option that allowed them to express themselves sexually without having to bear numerous children as a result of that. In Margaret Sanger's era there were no alternatives for women, there was always abstinence of course, but what about those women who were married and couldn't use abstinence as a method. Margaret Sanger's goal was to create an alternative for women, who wanted to engage in sexual activity, but who wanted to control the number of children that they could have. Throughout Sanger's life she struggled to get information out about birth control, laws during those days (ex. The Comstock Law) prohibited the distribution of pamphlets and other materials encouraging the use of birth control. This was just one of the many struggles that Sanger faced during her crusade, Sanger faced jail time, death of loved ones and resistance to her cause. No matter what was going on Margaret always remained dedicated to her cause; she fought hard for the use of birth control and thanks to her women during the 1920's received it. Some of the forms of birth control during the 1920's were: Condoms, sheaths, coitus interruptus (the withdrawal method), douching (using lemon juice and baking soda), prolonged nursing and of course abstinence. Because of Margaret Sanger, these choices were available and as a result many more options would be available for women decades later.
(http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/femhist/birth_control.shtml)
(http://www.edwardsly.com/sangerm.htm)


Now in the 21st century, birth control forms have expanded. Today birth control comes in many forms, it can be broken down into categories such as: behavioral, physical, surgical and medical. Behavioral methods are defined as "those methods that are focused the conscious behaviors of both the male and female in a sexual situation", under behavioral forms of birth control we can find some similarities between the 1920's methods and present methods, some example of behavioral forms are: abstinence, breast feeding, basal body temperature chart, rhythm method chart, Outercourse (ex. Kissing, touching, cuddling, etc.), and coitus interruptus (withdrawal method). These are just a few examples of behavioral forms of birth control. The next category is called physical. Physical methods of birth control consist of forms of birth control that both a man and a woman can use. Examples of physical forms are: cervical caps, condoms, diaphragms, and IUD's. Medical methods is the next category, this category consists of forms of birth control that women can choose from. Examples of medical methods are spermicidal foams, the pill, the shot and the emergency pill. Last but certainly not least are the surgical methods. Surgical methods consist of ways that both males and females can surgically prevent pregnancy. Examples of surgical forms are tubal sterilization, vasectomy, norplant implants and abortion. These are just a few examples of birth control methods that are now available to both men and women.
(http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/femhist/birth_control.shtml)

Statistical Information

According to an article done by CBS news in 2005, it is estimated that fewer women are using birth control. It was said that at least "seven percent (7%) of women recently had sex without using birth control" as a result, "nearly five million women may be at risk of having an unintended pregnancy". This article continues that talk about why the percentage of women using birth control is so low. According to the article, the main reading for the decrease in birth control usage is because birth control has become too expensive. The average cost of birth control in the U.S. is about $35-45 a month, which means that access to birth control is limited, especially for people who have low-incomes. The article uses a study done by the National Center for Health Statistics to show that in more women are avoiding the pill, it was 5.2% in 1995 and in 2002 it was 7.4%. Basically even with the wide range of choices women still aren't using them.
(http://cbs4.com/health/health_story_005120004.html)

This isn't the only article stating the decrease of birth control usage. An article written in WebMD Medical News 2005 explains: "Of particular concern is that while 98% of women of childbearing age use birth control, about half of unplanned pregnancies occur among the 2% of women not using contraception," Lindberg tells WebMD. "A sexually active woman not using contraception has an 85% chance of getting pregnant. This means almost a million more unplanned pregnancies might occur."
(http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/99/105099.htm)
Quotes:
"I think we should teach that if you choose to have sex without birth control, you have chosen to be a parent," Moos says. "It is about making decisions rather than trusting to fate." (http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/99/105099.htm)

Lindberg, too, says well-meaning messages may be to blame.
"Women need clear, consistent messages that hormonal contraception when used properly is a 99% effective means of preventing unintended pregnancy," she says. "To the extent that abstinence education and other programs are highlighting the failure rate as opposed to the protection rate for these methods, women may be confused. Efforts to scare women about the health risks of birth control pills, or saying birth control doesn't always protect you, leave women saying, 'Why bother?"
(http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/99/105099.htm)

In spite of women's increased options of pregnancy prevention, fewer women are taking advantage of it. This does not take away from the fact that there are options available, it just makes it hard to determine how much it actually works. Regardless of all that, Margaret Sanger gave women a choice, and because of her we are free to choose to take birth control or too not.

Information Courtesy Of:
http://www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~ulrich/femhist/birth_control.shtml
http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/99/105099.htm
http://cbs4.com/health/health_story_005120004.html
http://www.edwardsly.com/sangerm.htm