Women Control or Birth Control?

Jyoti Shekar

“We are not against women’s rights, but this is a moral concern. The advertising of this drug will mean that women will think, ‘I can do anything and there is an easy way not to get pregnant.’ We can’t allow such an attitude to grow.” 

As per news reports, the above quote was made by the Director of the Department of Drug Control in Tamil Nadu a few years back when emergency contraceptives were seized from pharmacies.

To add insult to injury, this regressive attitude is not where it ends. 

Chennai still faces a ‘ban’, not only on emergency contraceptive pills, but on other oral birth control as well. Funnily, the ‘ban’ is not official. The drugs are under scheduled category, but are simply unavailable to discourage sale of birth control pills; which means they should be available on prescription.

However, last month I personally went to three different medical stores (including a reputed chain) who told me that these pills have been banned completely, and cannot even be given on prescription!

To balance it out, the government has come up with ‘Antara’ scheme where women between 18-45 years of age are given free contraceptive shots once every three months.

It is puzzling to note how these people think controlling women’s actions and abstinence can help in birth control. On one hand, having more than two children (even one, if out of wedlock) is discouraged. On the other, birth control remedies are curbed, unless you go through invasive methods (which have major health risks – infection, AIDS and what not) or rely on the ‘ever-dependable’ man. 

In short, they seem to be saying – Women, do not dare to have sex. If you do, then leave it up to the man to decide whether you should have kids or not. And if he does want to give you kids, take all the blame for being an unwed mother, the mother of a girl child, the mother of an unhealthy child etc.

I wonder why the ramifications of this are not thought through. There are studies which show an increase in abortion rates due to this. 

Duh! Obvious, don’t you think? But has anyone even thought about non consensual sex? 

Even if emergency contraceptive pills have debatable harmful effects, they are needed in certain cases – like the name suggests, in an emergency. Do you think if a girl ends up having unsafe sex or gets raped, she will be in a position to go to the doctor the next morning to request a pill? If she does, she may end up getting a free dose of lecture on how girls should conduct themselves.

Even if we ignore this point, normal contraceptive pills are not exactly harmful. They are not only an effective birth control measure, but also help in balancing hormones and correcting PCOD and other ailments. I personally can vouch for their effectiveness in PCOD.

Then why are these pills not available? And there does not even seem to be an official notification. In fact, they came up with one of the lamest arguments I have heard in a long time. As per reports, the restriction is supposed to be on abortion pills, but pharmacists got them confused with contraceptive pills!!

Sigh!

Somewhere I agree with the Drug Control Department. Certain attitudes cannot be allowed to grow, and theirs need to be nipped in the bud.

 

*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*

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