LARCS, Abstinence, and Other Matters of Education

I have read Isabel Sawhill’s new book, Generation Unbound.  In this, she tells us that she would encourage young people to be ‘planners’ rather than ‘drifters’ when it comes to relationships, marriage, and child bearing.  [Among other implications of this, it implies that ‘falling in love’ is not the best thing to do or the only valid way to enter a marriage.] One thing that she believes is helpful is LARCs, a clumsy acronym for Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives.  These are of two kinds:

  1. Intra Uterine Devices [IUDs]
  2. Chemical implants like Norplant and Depo-Provera.

The advantage of these is, rather than having to be donned in the, um, heat of the moment, they have to be specifically undone when the woman is ready to have another child.  I am not sure whether the Roman Catholic Church will bar from the Eucharist women it knows to be so equipped.  I am pretty sure that conservative Protestants will not.  I’m also not sure what the failure rate of these things is.  I know that Hobby Lobby is upset about IUDs because sometimes they kill the fertilized egg or embryo between fertilization and implantation.  And I would say that the question of whether it is a ‘person’ between fertilization and implantation is not a question that ‘science’ can answer, or is equipped to answer.  [Identical twins come from a fertilized egg that subsequently splits into two fertilized eggs or embryos.  Between fertilization and the split, was the egg one person or two?]

One of my concerns is that, as I posted about a couple of years ago, Melinda Gates Discovered in Africa that the contraceptive the women wanted was Depo-Provera, because they could hide it from their husbands.  By Western standards, we might say that these women live in a condition of continual spousal rape!  And I wonder if LARCs would encourage a sort of ‘rapey’ culture here in the West, or are they conceding that it exists?

Nevertheless, we do have rational arguments for encouraging LARC-equipped ladies to premarital abstinence, which do not depend on religious revelation.

  1. LARCs offer no protection whatever against sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS.
  2. The emotional issue.  Women, when they go to bed, want a relationship of some kind.  The male ‘cad’ is a feature of song and story going a long way back.  We can tell LARC-equipped women, quite as much as other women, that they should not give everything away prior to some kind of a ring or commitment from the male.  Why do you complain that he doesn’t ‘commit’ if he’s got it all already?  And don’t get blitzed at a fraternity party.  You should not be called a ‘slut’ but a fool.  This does not excuse the rapist-exploiter.  If you drive down to the ghetto and leave your jewelry and handbag on the front seat of your car with the car unlocked, something can be said about your wisdom; but the thief is no less a criminal for all that.

Sawhill sounds like she advocates government programs for equipping many women, especially the poorer ones, with LARCs.  Maybe this would save more money in the end, and maybe it would actually reduce abortions.  So it may not be a bad thing, keeping in mind what I said above.  But I do think, as I said in my earlier post, that things like LARCs, and for that matter condoms and other forms of protection, can be subsidized but not handed out absolutely free of charge except in situations where women have access to absolutely zero financial resources whatsoever [which might be the case in an extremely patriarchal society].  So I think given the potential of LARCs to reduce abortion and unwanted childbearing, and the fact that they do not eliminate rational arguments for premarital abstinence, that their good outweighs their bad; at least I hope so.

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