Friday, February 24, 2006

An impossible Pill to swallow

Packaged as reproductive freedom, the birth control pill has been triumphed for decades as the means by which women were able to rid themselves from the bondage of fertility and be able to enjoy sexual relations for mere bodily pleasure. But, a closer look at chemical birth control suggests that maybe it is more of a burden on women than a redeemer.

The irony is that birth control is almost always a sort of necessary evil for women. In exchange for this "freedom," a woman must remember to take a daily pill, replace a weekly patch or a monthly ring, or otherwise keep up with a regular regimen that suppresses her health and fertility. She must suffer the adverse sexual and medical side effects, and she is usually stuck with the financial expense of the chemicals, devices and doctor's visits. Certainly looks like a burden to me.

So where are men here? The only two options for men are condoms or vasectomy. While equally as morally offensive as chemical contraceptives, they do not carry the baggage that women's contraceptives do. Dozens of versions of female chemical contraceptives are available, but where are these options for men?

From the 1940s-1960s while researchers were developing the birth control pill, there were formulas for making both a men's version and a women's version, but ultimately, the women's version was the only one to hit the market. Men noticed in the trials that their pill had adverse physical side effects. Women in the trials died from their pill. The men's version was discontinued, and the dosage of the women's version was reduced.

One of those researchers was Carl Djerassi, and he commented today on the ideology behind this lack of consistency in reproductive destruction.

In an interview published in the Portuguese magazine, "Sabado," Djerassi admitted that medicine is certainly capable of developing such a pill, but said that, "The problem is that men are afraid to lose their virility. Even if taking a pill carries only a remote chance of impotence, they won't take the chance." He also stated that men "don't want to lose [the] privilege" of becoming fathers even into their 60s and 70s.

According to Djerassi's comments, bearing a child is a prized privilege for a man, but the fertility of a woman becomes a disposable and sickening aspect of her.

Here's some more surprising news. In 2002, several researchers were given a $9.5 million dollar grant by the National Institutes of Health for creating a male chemical contraception. No results yet, and that was my tax dollars at work. I'm not surprised.

That would be a hard pill for any man to swallow. Why have so many women been subjecting themselves to this for so long?

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