Although in this day and age having children is not seen as a necessity, it still remains part of the human condition to procreate. Early in the history of man there was no fear of overpopulation of the planet children were needed to help the rest of the community. However, as our world has aged our population has grown, leaving a lot of fear for what will happen in the future concerning resources. It is clear that we must do something, which is where birth control comes in.
In the past 100 years great strides have been made concerning personal rights, among many of these include the reproductive rights, not only for women but, of all humans. In 1912 an article was published by upcoming women’s rights activist , Margaret Sanger, about sexual education entitled “WHAT EVERY GIRL SHOULD KNOW” (Published article. Source: New York Call, Dec. 22, 1912) . As a nurse Sanger had encountered a number of women who had not been taught the fundamentals of sexual education and consequently had undergone a variety of back alley abortions and home births. This lead to Sanger’s 1914 feminist publication “THE WOMAN REBEL” which promoted the use of birth control. Even though Sanger had a significantly negative backlash,which ended up almost causing her a five-year prison sentence, the publication still proved to be very influential. After years of observing the horrific circumstances that women were exposed to due to lack of sexual education Margaret Sanger wrote the most influential of all her publications. In 1924 “THE CASE FOR BIRTH CONTROL” was first published in the Woman Citizen, Vol. 8, February 23, 1924, pages 17-18. In this famous article Sanger addressed the huge rates of poverty that stemmed from the common problem of already poor families having too many children. She also addressed the inhumane expectation of women to have more children than they could raise, as well as the expectation of men to work hard enough to support a large family on menial wages.
As time went on, societies ideals changed. Little did Sanger know that in the next forty years her research and funding would result in an amazing creation, the first birth control pill. “Enovid” was introduced to the modern market in 1960 as the first birth control pill. However, a large majority of people saw this as unnatural and saw those who used or tried to use it as disrespecting god’ natural plan. This inevitably lead to the 1965 supreme court case of Griswold v. Connecticut. In which a married couple, Estelle Griswold, the executive director of Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, and Dr. C. Lee Buxton, doctor and professor at Yale Medical School, were arrested and found guilty of providing illegal contraception. However, after appealing to the supreme court the 1879 law prohibiting any form of birth control was found unconstitutional on the grounds that it infringed on “marital privacy”. This was a big win in the history of birth control, as it allowed married couples to now have the choice of whether or not they would have a child at any time, married couples could now have the ability to plan every pregnancy.
As the late 1960’s rolled around, a free and open-minded atmosphere began a new kind of revolution that before then would not have been tolerated. This refers to what is now widely known as the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. Because of the fight many had made early in the 20th century, women were now free to choose when sexual intercourse meant procreation, or recreation, the choice was now in their hands. Although “the pill” has been around now for over fifty years. The fight for access to birth control still carries on, not only in America, but largely in the rest of the world, especially third world and largely Roman Catholic countries.
Even today, birth control is not entirely accessible for everybody. This proves to be an extremely serious problem, when you take into account the extreme overpopulation our planet is facing. An estimated 150 million women worldwide are denied access to birth control. In many parts of the world women begin getting pregnant at younger than twenty years old and continue to become pregnant every year after. This is not only irresponsible towards the health and nurturing of the children, but this also puts an enormous and dangerous strain on the mother’s body. Women and children die due to complications that could easily be avoided if access to birth control was provided. This is why many organizations work towards access to birth control world-wide. This includes United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA, who partner with foreign governments to control populations and extreme poverty through sexual education and available birth control options. The UNFPA argues that to decrease poverty world-wide people as a whole need to drastically decrease the amount of children born, as well as reinforcing sexual education resources.
One of the cases the UNFPA is working on is that of Ayatu Nure and his 78 Children. In his rural region of Ethiopia it is normal for a man to take up to four wives, as long as he can provide for each wife and the consequential children accordingly, unfortunately while Ayatu Nure may at one point have had a vast enough amount of land to provide for his family, due to the large sums he has paid for each of his wives’ dowry he can now no longer sustain his enormous family. This is just one example of something that is happening world-wide. Because of little or no access to education on sex, pregnancy planning, pregnancy spacing, and the vast amount of contraceptives that could be used to greatly help those who are in need, men, women, and children will continue to suffer.
The fight for world-wide education on contraceptive use is still going strong. Thanks to organizations like UNFPA whose goal is “achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health,including family planning, promoting reproductive rights, and reducing maternal mortality” As well as working towards accelerating the progress of the twenty year plan, conceived at the 1994 International conference on population and development. Which links the problems of gender inequality and misogyny to poverty, overpopulation, poor health and poor education.
As the world continues to progress with society’s ever-changing ideals I truly believe that people will become more progressive in themselves and begin to truly open up to sexual education as a form of population and poverty control. After a hundred years and what seems like endless fighting, the crusade for reproductive rights is still going strong, with no backing down in sight.