Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Birthday of the Pill: 50 Years Later

by Vicki Thorn (Headline Bistro)  Please note: bolding is my emphasis.

From Time to Our Sunday Visitor, many articles are appearing in the media, both faith-based and secular, as society acknowledges and examines the impact of the birth control pill 50 years after its entrance on the U.S. scene.

Yet having read these and others, it seems there are more issues that aren’t being discussed.

For example, one would think that the environmental factor of artificial birth control would be of interest these days. The Pill and related contraceptives are contributing to waste water management issues around the world, since their hormonal content does not break down when excreted from the human body and entering our water system. We have a growing awareness today of the impact of certain plastics and other industrial chemicals on the body, as well as that of estrogens used in poultry and cattle feed. But estrogen is in our drinking water, too, and the role of contraceptives cannot be ignored.

“Estrogen and estrogen-like compounds enter water rivers, steams and reservoirs from many sources and remain there even after passing through water treatment plants,” reported one article, which went on to state that about 80 percent of 139 U.S. rivers have been found to be contaminated with trace estrogen compounds. “Naturally occurring estrogen compounds come from livestock urine and feces, and from human excretions which also contain contraceptives and hormone replacement medications.”

(For more information, the first book I encountered on this subject is called The Estrogen Effect: How Chemical Pollution is Threatening Our Survival, by Deborah Cadbury.)

Current writers are starting to explore the impact of exposure to such contaminants on the hormones of developing boys and girls. Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D., speaks about this in his books Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Under Achieving Men and Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls. His conclusions are dead on, and males especially seem to suffer: additional estrogen can lower testosterone in males, cause bones that do not mineralize properly, and result in genital malformations.

“Scientists are finding that exposure to environmental estrogens early in life, particularly in utero and in early infancy blunts or eliminates sex differences in behavior,” Dr. Sax writes in Boys Adrift.
There are many unanswered questions and outcomes that go far beyond the decision to use the Pill.
There is another outcome that needs to be considered. Some years ago in the book 13th Gen: Abort, Retry, Ignore, Fail? by Neil Howe, William Strauss, R.J. Matson and Ian Williams, the authors speak about an impact of contraception: we could suddenly control our fertility.

The arrival of children was no longer a spontaneous random event, and in the authors’ description, children moved from being “welcomed to wanted.” Our desire for children moved them from gift to possession. Because they were “planned,” we came to expect that they would fulfill our expectations. We wanted a boy and a girl, and we fantasized about the feisty football player and the delicate ballerina and the academic super star.

“Children are expected to provide a return for all the care, attention and money lavished on them,” said the authors of Lying-In: A History of Childbirth in America. “Children have become extensions of the parent’s selves, demonstrations of the parent’s genetic potential, economic expenditures, emotional self-sacrifice and childbearing ability.”

I remember magazine covers in the ‘90s depicting children with barcodes on their foreheads. The message? Children are the ultimate possession.

Yet on the flip side of this possessive mentality toward children was another phenomena: the “oops” child.
You’ve probably heard parents say, “This is John and this Mary. And this is Sam, our little oops!” The child hears this description and quickly concludes that they were a mistake, and this becomes their enduring identity.

Whenever I speak about this, people in the audience nod, because I have described their experience. They have lived with a deep existential wound that either drove them to become “super achievers,” as if to prove their parents wrong, or to write life off as one who was never meant to be here. One woman recently volunteered that her sister was the unplanned child in the family and that they call her “Boo Boo” to this day. She said she’d never thought of the damage that may have done to her.

Contraception and abortion mean we have absolute power to decide who comes into the world and who doesn’t. In the book Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia's Dead End Kids, author Donna Gaines observes that the Baby Boom generation – the last conceived before legalized abortion –“grew up understanding that one generation now had the legitimate right to annihilate another, up front.”
I would add that contraception is part of this mentality as well.
Who would think that a little pill could change so many things!

1 comment:

Abbey said...

The Dorothy Gaines comment provokes much thought. I was not Catholic "back then" ... IUDs were more "convenient" ... who knew that one little pill could have such an enormous impact on the future of humanity. I won't even discuss abortion. It's wrong, it's murder. PERIOD!

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