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I was shocked and horrifed to read Mr. Kuropatwinski’s letter from Jan. 22 in regard to the devastating global effects of female contraceptive pills. I feel such shame at the selfish family planning I employed! I have been very guilty of using Western affluence to manage my reproductive options, while Afgan women, for example, have apparently been much more global in their thinking. I am, however, a bit confused. Of the ills cited as a result from use of The Pill, I see listed population decline. In fact, global population is still increasing, and decreases in birth rates are well correlated with female education, such that every three years worth of education for a woman is associated with her having one fewer child. Apparently, we will need to restrict “girl schoolin” if we are to avert this disastrous population decline. Again, we might consider the example of Afghan women. Second, intelligence immigration appears to be a concern blamed on The Pill – but isn’t that a good thing? Goody! More brains for us!
Mr. Kuropatwinski’s final two concerns are particularly concerning. But in fact, cervical cancer is not caused by The Pill. It’s associated with a virus which is passed to a woman through sex, and I would like all the women in town to know this. It is a sexually transmitted disease, for which the best prevention is abstinence, with use of condoms as a runner up. And finally, our “hormonal footprint” may very well contribute to “environmental devastation” – but this is just one instance of our general pharmaceutical output, which includes antibiotics and has likely contributed to the rise of MRSA in our schools.
All these ills are the result of affluence. The ability to plan a family is also the result of affluence. Correlation is not cause, or else why would we not blame all our ills on the increased U.S. access to lattes? But I suppose Latte Sexuality is not terribly threatening to most people and doesn’t elicit a desire to crush it. To single out women’s ability to regulate their reproduction as the root of such damage is fear mongering of the most hurtful kind. The World Health Organization, the Population Institute and others involved with global health issues all cite allowing both education and access to birth control as necessary steps to make inroads against global poverty and disease. To do our environmental part our government might consider a great many things, including greater restrictions on and oversight of pharmaceutical industrial practices, or on the use of hormones in farming, but to deny women the single greatest liberator we have is an attempt to follow precisely the Afghan example. And many of those same Afghan people are fighting and dying not to do things that way.