As someone who's been on one form of birth control or another since I was 18, I often take it for granted. I take for granted that although the very first oral contraceptive, Enovoid, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1960, it was far from perfect and created physical complications. I take for granted the fight that came with making the Pill legal and accessible (a fight that still continues). And, as much as it embarrasses me to admit this, every time I pop the Pill in my mouth, I take for granted the privilege that comes with having access to birth control in a world where far too many women don't have that access because they don't have autonomy. Autonomy and access to birth control should not be a privilege; it should be a right.
"Part of agency and determining one’s path is the ability to control if, when and how to have children," Dr. Marisa Nádas, an OB-GYN at Jacobi Medical Center, NY and a fellow with Physicians for Reproductive Health, tells Bustle. "Taking away that control from women means taking away their agency, ultimately making reproduction a barrier to education, economic independence, and self-determination."
On this International Contraception Day, it's time to take a serious look at just how paramount birth control is. It doesn't just save lives, especially in nations where access to proper medical career is minimal, but it allows women to choose when they're ready to have a family and, in doing so, promotes prosperity, giving both mother and child a chance at success and happiness — something we all deserve.
Here are seven statistics that show just how important birth control is on not just an individual level, but on society as a whole.
1American Is Lagging In Birth Control Access Compared To Other Industrialized Countries
According to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 45 percent of people think that everyone in their community has access to a full range of birth control, but that's far from true. Even before we step outside the United States and look at the dozens and dozens of countries where access is literally a dream, right here in the U.S. 20 million women live in what's known as contraceptive deserts. Although unwanted pregnancies in the U.S. have dropped recently, these deserts contribute to the U.S. still having the highest rate of unwanted teen pregnancy in of any industrialized nation. In other words, it's time to step up our game.
2An Overwhelming Majority Believe Taking Birth Control Is Taking Responsibility For One's Self
People on both side of the political aisle — 98 percent of Democrats and 93 percent of Republicans — firmly believe that taking birth control goes hand-in-hand with one taking responsibility for their body and the choices they make for their body. In addition to this stat, 94 percent of American adults feel the same way.
Although, only 70 percent of Republicans, compared to 90 percent of Democrats believe that birth control should be a basic part of women's health care.
3Birth Control Fosters Success
According to research by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, before women had access to birth control there were zero female CEOs at any of the Fortune 500 companies. Now? There are 21. Although it would be phenomenal to see more women in those positions — and we will! — those 21 women are proof that when women are given control over their bodies, success just naturally follows.
3Majority Of Adults Believe The Decision To Have A Child Is One Of The Most Important Choices
Of those surveyed, the findings revealed that 87 percent of people "believe that the decision of 'if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant,' is 'absolutely' or 'one of the most important decisions' a person can make" — and it IS. But what's even more important is giving women the access to birth control so they can make that decision in the first place.
4Most Millennials Are All For Affordable Birth Control
Although this shouldn't be much of a surprise, the research found that 81 percent of millennials are very much in favor of increasing access to birth control for ALL women. Support for this idea comes from all "all racial, ethnic, religious, and political groups," according to the research.
5People Don't Know Enough About Birth Control
There are many types of birth control from which to choose. Having a choice is great, because not every female body is the same and sometimes finding the right birth control is a trial and error process. However, despite this fact, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that over a one-third of adults (38 percent) say that don't know much about birth control pills, which happen to be the most popular choice of birth control.
Not only that, but 68 percent admit knowing "little or nothing" about IUDs and 77 percent admit the same about implants. And, because that's not scary enough, 25 percent of men claim to know at least something about the "contraception cone" method of birth control, WHICH ISN'T A REAL THING AND DOESN'T EVEN EXIST.
These terrifying stats prove that not only is birth control important, but that educating people about birth control and the options they have is equally important.
6People Would Be More Likely To Use Birth Control If They Were Comfortable Discussing It
Now that we have those stats in our pocket, as painful as they may be, another statistics to add to the pile is that seven in 10 adults believe that birth control would be used more if people knew their options, had easier access, and were more comfortable talking about it.
While this is understandable and makes sense, to a degree, it's worth noting that we're in 2017. If you're engaging in sexual intercourse with someone, it's not just important to talk about birth control methods, but educate yourself enough to know what's out there. There are so many resources for such things. In fact, Planned Parenthood, for starters, can answer any possible sex or birth control related query that anyone has. And, trust me, there is no question or concern you have that they haven't heard before.
7The Majority Of Millennial Republicans Believe In Birth Control Education
Every once in awhile a statistic about young Republicans gives me hope and this is one them: 65 percent of millennial Republicans think it's important to educate everyone about birth control and the options, so they can make the decision of what is the best choice for them. How refreshing is that for a statistic?
But while some of these stats are good news, some are still cringe-worthy — hence the reason International Contraception Day exists in the first place. Giving people the power to make choices for themselves isn't just about human rights, but about giving them a chance in life to go as far as they can in fulfilling their dreams. Access to birth control and educating people, of all ages, about it is a guarantee win for our society, our future, and all of humanity.