Birth control isn’t just for whores and sluts.
And there is more to birth control than just condoms or the pill. But the conversations regarding sex and sexual consent are restricted in Utah schools since the Utah House Education Committee struck down a bill that would have allowed for discussion beyond abstinence-based sex education in February.
Ignorance and birth control
With minimal education on birth control available, Elizabeth Bluhm, victim advocate coordinator at the Dove Center, said it’s short-sighted not to have conversations about sex with young people.
“Even if they don’t want their kids to be sexually active, and heaven forbid they are if they have taught not to be, the likelihood is and the statistics show us that it’s very prevalent,” Bluhm said.
To help combat ignorance of sexual education, especially concerning birth control, Bluhm said the Planned Parenthood website is an excellent resource.
According to the St. George affiliated branch of the Planned Parenthood website, the types of birth control offered at the St. George location are: implant, patch, pill, vaginal ring (NuvaRing), diaphragm, condom, IUD (hormonal), IUD (copper), and sterilization for men (vasectomy).
One type of birth control is not enough
Susan Ertel, an associate English professor at Dixie State University and president-elect of the DSU branch of Utah Women in Higher Education Network, said users of birth control should always look at companion contraceptives.
“No one method of birth control is ever effective, [and] you should always have a backup even if you’re on the pill if you’re trying to not have a baby,” Ertel said. “Even if you’re on something like an IUD, a condom still helps prevent [sexually-transmitted infections].”
Amy Fox, abstinence education coordinator for the Hope Pregnancy Care Center, said the center focuses on abstinence-based education but also touches on contraceptives.
“We don’t whitewash anything,” Fox said. “[Our number are] per the [Center for Disease Control] failure rate,” Fox said. “We give [teens] exact numbers. Our program is completely opinion free. It’s all evidence and science-based.”
According to the CDC’s website, 18 percent of women annually will become pregnant even if a condom was used. Bluhm said the failure rate of condoms is not an unfamiliar story.
“I’m one of many millions of condom babies walking around,” Bluhm said.
However, birth control like the implant has a 0.05 percent failure rate, and the IUD has a 0.2 – 0.8 percent failure rate depending on the type of IUD, according to the CDC. So the effectiveness of the condom paired with one of these types of contraceptives is much higher.
Also, Ertel said she is against abstinence education for several reasons.
“Abstinence-only education increases the likelihood of an early first encounter,” Ertel said. “Because [teens] are like, ‘Well, nobody’s saying anything [about sex], this should be fun.’”
Ertel said it is likely teens will turn to porn as an instruction manual for sex if adults won’t educate their children.
Why birth control impacts you
According to the Utah Women and Higher Education Initiative, Utah women are less likely to have college degrees than any other women in the nation. This trend, Ertel said, will have negative impacts on these womens’ future children.
“Every study will show that the education of the mother will indicate the education of the children,” Ertel said. “The father’s education level will not [impact the children].”
While making it clear that she was not discouraging marriage, Ertel said women should be educated on birth control options and be able to delay having children so they can obtain their degree, instead of checking the box that indicates “some college-no degree.”
As for single people, Fox had some advice as well.
“There’s a lot of risks [with sex],” Fox said. “If you’re not doing it, you’re not being exposed to STI’s. If you’re not doing it, and putting it off for the future, there’s no chance of pregnancy.”
To help women become more educated on their options when it comes to birth control, Ertel and the DSU chapter of the UWHEN is working to organize a club called Students for Choice, which should be ready for new club members in time for the fall Club Rush.
March 30, 2016
Correction- The DSU chapter of UWHEN is not organizing the Students for Choice club. Professor Ertel is only personally involved in the project.