Today I did a leadership activity where with a certain amount of money I proposed that we subsidize CMU’s prescription birth control methods because of the huge price increase created by President Bush’s Deficit Reduction Act. This Act changed the formula which had previously encouraged drug makers to offer school discounts to discourage them. I spent this morning Escorting and plan to attend Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania’s Rally for Affordable Contraception next week because I think unintended pregnancies are bad. And it was that simple for me. I don’t really think it’s my business to pass judgment on the morality of medical treatments, and as women (and their families) with devastating cramps know, the pill can be a life-saver for the non-sexually active.
But my group was offended. Not uninterested, not confused about the legal issue, offended that I wanted to subsidize contraception. Now as I Escorted this morning I got to listen to a man with yelling “Contraception causes Cancer! Abortion causes Cancer!” which I pretty much filed away in my head under the same category as things I hear listening to Rush Limbaugh or Martha Stewart. But standing with a group of Freshmen, I suddenly hear one woman say “I’m alienated by that idea”, a man say “I don’t like that idea because I’m a guy” and the entire group come to the general consensus that it was an offensive and unreasonable way to spend our money, all in about 30 seconds.
I have rarely found myself so poor a gage of an issue’s popularity. I consider myself relatively savvy about how people will deal with my issues and I was blindsided. As we decided on a much mellower and milder plan, I thought:
I thought most religions gave up fighting contraception in the 70s,” and (uncharitably)
“Do they think abortions are a better option or should all women start getting pregnant at 18 and not stop until they’re 40”, and
How is responsibility offensive?
Because that’s how I have always seen contraception. The intension to start a family and the intension to enter into a sexual relationship are differentiated in my mind. Now, having heterosexual sex requires (or should require) both parties to understand the possible implications of what they are doing and to plan for unintended pregnancies. But in my mind, contraception is only not used when a woman wants to get pregnant or is raped. There are other responsible situations where a woman and her companion might choose to go without contraception, but they are few and far between.
So why did my peers disagree so thoroughly?
Some later seemed to agree with me but it was too late and my idea had been taken out and crushed. I think I have just never known someone my age who didn’t understand the vital place contraception has in our society.
It took me a while to calm down, and then I started asking questions. Turns out I couldn’t find anyone who wold tell me they personally would deny women contraception. I’ll keep asking around, but I hope it was just a case of students being over-sensitive for hypothetical (non-existent) others.
I just don’t know.
Liberty without learning is always in peril; learning without liberty is always in vain.
– John F. Kennedy