Contraception and feminism misaligned

By Kate Hendrick

Pro-lifer Kate Hendrick writes at her personal blog Stumbling Toward Sainthood. Here she shares how contraception is incompatible with true feminism.

We often hear that birth control empowers women or that birth control is necessary for women to succeed.

These comments come from women who promote feminism, while the messages undermine women for three reasons.

  • It implies that women are incapable of doing what men have been doing all along: have a career and a family. I am not trying to ignore the reality that the burden of child-rearing more often falls on women, but that is what we must address, not whether life should be created at all. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 70 percent of women in the workforce have children under the age of 18. 

    Motherhood doesn’t need to stop women from pursuing a career, and a majority of women in the workforce are managing both their job and their family. Even giving birth recently doesn’t stop women, as 62 percent of women who have given birth in the last 12 months are in the workforce. Why are we telling women that they need to postpone having children when the data tells us that a majority of women can do both? That isn’t to say that it won’t be challenging, but doesn’t true feminism recognize that both men and women are equally capable of managing both?

  • It demeans women who have chosen to forego a career to raise their children. By telling women that their equality comes from them being active participants in the workforce, it is saying that choosing motherhood is less important. There is no such thing as “just” being a stay at home mom, but even if we ignored all the incredible things she does, isn’t basing someone’s equality on the job they doing perpetuating inequality? 

    If a woman’s greatest goal in life is to raise a happy family, shouldn’t that be celebrated just as much as a doctor? True feminism should encourage women to make their own choices and celebrate the success they achieve.

  • It tells women that to be equal to men, they must use something that is harmful. There is a wealth of knowledge that tells us how contraceptives have bad side effects, can be damaging to relationships and may even negatively impact society. When we say that women need access to birth control to be successful, we are treating a healthy function of their body as a crime and punishing them with a very heavy burden. 

    Placing the burden of birth control (and all its risks) on women is telling women that they cannot be equal to men until they betray what makes them uniquely feminine. Doesn’t true feminism treat everyone equally, despite their differences, rather than trying to eliminate those differences?

There is still gender inequality, but promoting “the pill” as a key to success is just a Band-Aid and a bad one at that. 

This Band-Aid may seem to cover up the problems we face as women, but underneath that coverage, the wound is deepening as women are told that their choices to be mothers and to embrace part of what makes them uniquely women are not what they should be aspiring towards. 

Women deserve better than “the pill;” we can do better than “the pill.”