British women have been unable to fill prescriptions for common contraceptives in the UK because of an apparent shortage due to “manufacturing” issues. Many doctors were reportedly unaware of the shortages, according to the Daily Mail, and continued to write prescriptions that their patients were later unable to fill. As a result, many in the UK are worried about a surge in unplanned pregnancies which they claim will lead to an increase in abortions, especially in light of the UK’s recent two-child benefit limit. The entire situation is further proof that birth control and abortion have done nothing to empower women.
In his 2015 Budget, austerity Chancellor George Osborne capped child credits at two children per family starting with all third children born after April 6, 2017. According to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), it affects the child tax credit and the universal credit. After the first two children are born, benefits can’t be claimed for any future children. The only exceptions are if a second pregnancy is multiple births such as twins or triplets, if the pregnancy was from rape and the mother can prove she doesn’t live at the same address as her assailant or cases in which the third child is being adopted or cared for by a “non-parental relationship by the claimant,” said BPS. The child credit limit directly affects lower-income families, making them feel they must kill their preborn children in order to be more financially secure.
Contraception has historically been sold to women as empowerment. It was supposed to be a way to give women control over their fertility, and therefore their lives. Instead, it has given women something else to feel dependent on – something that can fail them. According to BPAS, 51 percent of women who have abortions were on birth control at the time they became pregnant. In fact, some information indicates that when contraceptives are readily available, the abortion rate rises in some instances. This is because, as Guttmacher researcher Stanley Henshaw found, “contraceptive users appear to have been more motivated to prevent births than were nonusers.” Since we already know that the majority of abortions are committed on women who were using birth control when they became pregnant, as the number of women using birth control rises, so will the number of women willing to have abortions.
In addition, birth control was supposed to help boost women up financially, instead, it has helped push women and children into poverty. The United States Census Bureau found that more, not fewer, children are currently being raised by single mothers and that single mothers are more likely to live in poverty.
“[T]he contraceptive revolution has resulted in a massive redistribution of wealth and power from women and children to men,” explained economist Timothy Reichert. “[I]t sets up what economists call a ‘prisoner’s-dilemma game, in which each woman is induced to make decisions rationally that ultimately make her, and all women, worse off.”
In addition, instead of uniting married couples, birth control has led to an increase in adultery and divorce. Reichert noted that the creation of separate sex and marriage markets from the single mating market after the introduction of birth control caused an increase in infidelity among men.
“The mechanisms that cause this are relatively obvious but worth mentioning […],” explains Reichert. “First, contraception nearly eliminates the risk of conceiving a child with someone other than one’s spouse, thereby eliminating most of the detection risk for the unfaithful. Further, the fact that contraception cleaves the marriage market into separate markets for sex and marriage creates a ready market for married individuals to dip into should they desire a tryst. Before contraception, it was prostitution—a market much more limited in size—that offered the primary opportunities for infidelity.”
The number of abortions in the UK in women over 35 has hit an all-time high, and the two-child benefit is unlikely to bring a decrease in this number. Already, reports have surfaced of women who felt forced to abort because of this policy.
“I cried at every appointment regarding the termination and I woke up crying from the operation as well,” Sally told the Mirror. She was expecting her first daughter and had two boys at home when she learned about the policy. Her daughter was unplanned but very much wanted. She and her partner could find no way out of the financial pressure to abort.
“I think it’s something I will never forgive myself for,” she said.
Birth control has never been the answer for women and the fight for equality, and neither has abortion. Now, women in the UK are bearing even more of the burdens of contraception. Perhaps these manufacturing issues and birth control shortages will lead women to learn more about their own fertility cycles and finally break free from hormonal birth control and its side effects and dangers.
Editor’s Note 9/4/19: This article was edited to add more detailed information on birth control and the two-child benefit limit in the UK.
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