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.
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.
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.
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
"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?"
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.
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