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CDC warning creates pressure, divide for women not on birth control

Wine glassesRecently the CDC released a statement encouraging women who are not taking birth control to stop drinking alcohol in order to avoid the potential danger of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders should they become pregnant. This article points to research that exposes the potential risk of a woman drinking early in her pregnancy.

Why does it seem as if society finds more and more ways to create division between women who use contraceptives and women who do not? This news statement singles out those women who choose not to take birth control for varying reasons and tells them their future child, whether they are planning to get pregnant or not, is at risk since they are not contracepting.

This is another example of how the media, and also the government, puts pressure on women to take birth control, supposedly to avoid certain risks. But what about the very risks of taking birth control? Oral contraceptives are a Group 1 Carcinogen and have their own extensive list of side effects that range from less serious — such as mood swings, weight gain, and nausea — to more serious that lead to larger health problems such as headaches and chest pain. While many want you to believe that birth control is harmless and an important part of women’s health, there can be just as many risks or more in taking birth control than deciding against it.

The article also states that “women who aren’t pregnant are told to behave like they might be.” This not only further divides the line between those who are on birth control and those who are not, but also singles out women as having the sole responsibility when it comes to pregnancy, planned or unplanned. The CDC also “argues women should stop drinking as soon as they stop using birth control.” And has the CDC never heard about all of the women who get pregnant even when on birth control? Aren’t those babies of concern to the CDC? Instead of singling out women who aren’t on birth control, why wasn’t their statement directed to all women who are sexually active?

Trust me, I am all for avoiding the dangers and disabilities that come from the fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, but this warning seemed a little too targeted to me. It can cause undue panic or worry for those using or considering natural family planning. But fret not, NFP is just as effective and women using it are very aware of the fertile points in their cycles. And it even gives you indicators of pregnancy right way.

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and many will be celebrating their love over a glass of wine. I say, drink up, NFP ladies! You likely know better than anyone — including the CDC — if you have any reason to hit pause before pouring.

— Megan Imwalle
Communications Intern