What’s to Debate About Birth Control?

Caroline Burau
Caroline Burau

This week, my sweet, Catholic mom is on vacation and has no access to the Internet. By pure coincidence, contraception is suddenly being re-debated in this country as if we’ve time-traveled back to 1960. This makes for two really excellent reasons to ask a question I’ve pondered for a very long time:

What does organized religion have against birth control?

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 46 percent of students in grades 9-12 reported being sexually active in 2009. As a parent, let me first say: egad!

[ Also see: For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage ]

That’s a lot of kids making some really adult decisions while we parents are sitting around filling out their college applications and paying for their unlimited texting plans. Never mind personal beliefs about faith, morality, God, Buddha, Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivus . . . whatever. Can we all at least agree that this age group is not ready to have children? Can we agree, also, that despite our best efforts to make sex sound like a total drag, they are having quite a lot of it anyway?

When I was a high school junior with no vehicle, no money, and a boyfriend I felt fairly certain was not marriage material, I approached my school nurse about birth control. (I knew my mom would hit the roof if she found out; I still fear this.) I was told I could be given a confidential pregnancy test in the nurse’s office (read: if the horse is already out of the barn), but that they did nothing for students actually trying to prevent pregnancy. They would not even provide condoms, presumably to avoid flack from our conservative, church-going parents.

But shouldn’t a 16-year-old who does not want to get pregnant be somehow supported in that goal? By somebody? Her church? Her school? Her parents? That was 22 years ago. Why are we still debating this?

Never mind, even, how you feel about abortion. Take the abortion debate off the table. Really? Yes. See, because we could all stop blowing up clinics and renting billboards featuring fetus photos if females of any age or demographic could just have access to whatever birth control (including “Morning After” pills) that they needed. Don’t you think most women willing to endure the physical and emotional pain of an abortion would have been perfectly willing to accept birth control instead?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, the average cost of delivering a baby – this is with no complications, and not including prenatal care – is $6,000 to $8,000. The average one-month supply of birth control is obviously so much less I didn’t even Google it. Let’s say $100. About 13 percent of women who become pregnant in this country are uninsured. We pay for that – all taxpayers – God-fearing or not.

Pick the most devout Catholic you know and give him the option to either give $100 to a Buddhist or $6,000 to a fellow Catholic. According to the Bureau of Stuff This Blogger Has a Right to Assume, he’d sheepishly hand a Benjamin to the Buddhist, then rush to confession at the next available opportunity.

I’m never going to convince my mom that I’m right about this – that birth control is so very the lesser of any evils that it circles right back around into being virtuous. I just can’t believe any of us are having to defend birth control to anybody.

Please click here to see more articles on MeaningfulWomen.com by Caroline Burau.

Caroline Burau is a freelance writer in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, and author of Sugarfiend and Answering 911: Life in the Hot Seat. You can also follow her on Twitter (@carolineburau).


  1. I guess the idea of organized religion is that, if one has “a boyfriend I felt fairly certain was not marriage material”, then one should not be having sex with that person. It’s a belief that sex is for creating life, not for recreation. Organized religion believes that the choice to have sex is a serious one, and not one to be taken lightly. You were responsible in recognizing that your boyfriend was not marriage material. But for some reason, you still thought it was appropriate to have sex with that person? That is where organized religion believes you have gone wrong.

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