Commentary Contraception

Crusading Against Condoms, from Matchsticks to Mental Health Issues

Robin Marty

Condemning condom use sure is popular this week, as Focus on the Family (located in Colorado Spring, site of devasatating wildfires this month) compares condom distribution to giving children matches as toys.

Critics of premarital sex have been harping on abstinence-only education for decades, but recently the crusade against condoms has reached a fever pitch.

You might even say it’s spreading like wildfire.

This week, Focus on The Family chose to make perhaps one of the most inappropriate analogies we’ve ever seen, comparing the fires devastating the state of Colorado (where the group is headquartered) to premarital sex.

Via Mother Jones:

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Why are we intentionally spending billions of dollars handing kids matches (condoms), which result in careless (sexual) “fires” and treating victims who have been unnecessarily burned by sex (STDs, pregnancy)? Wouldn’t prevention be cheaper and healthier?

“Safe” sex education—or promoting casual sex, while handing out condoms and birth control to kids—is analogous to passing out matches to kids in school, and telling them, “Be sure you play safely with these in the forest and, above all, have fun!”

It’s irresponsible messaging that encourages high-risk behavior at a great cost to families and our entire nation.

But FoF isn’t the only one going anti-condom extreme at the moment. “Bad Catholic” blogger, Marc Barnes, the force behind a site called “1Flesh,” claims he’s fighting to “bring back sexy” — a loss that occurred because of artificial contraception.

So we got together — a group of college kids — to find the root of this mentality. (aka what the hell happened!?) Well, though any cultural change contains all sorts of contributing factors, we think we’ve narrowed all the wackness down to its primary cause: The widespread use of artificial contraception.

This is a dangerous idea. It’s dangerous because artificial contraception is heavily promoted by big pharmaceutical companies — like Bayer Corp. — and contraception providers — like Planned Parenthood. It’s dangerous because it’s not an idea supported by those in power. But most of all, it’s dangerous because it’s true.

However, “artificial” in this case seems to mean anything that isn’t the rhythm method. Although on his site Barnes bemoans “hormonal contraception” and all of the issues it allegedly causes, the site makes it clear he has just as much of a problem with condoms, too.

Likewise, condoms prevent the natural, beneficial effect a man has on his partner’s reproductive system. A major cause of female infertility is zinc deficiency. A man’s semen supplies this vital nutrient to his wife, as well as ascorbic acid, blood-group antigens, calcium, chlorine, cholesterol, choline, citric acid, creatine, fructose, glutathione, lactic acid, magnesium, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, sorbitol, and vitamin B12 — all important to a woman’s reproductive health.

Extremely important, in fact. In two studies published in Oncology in 1978 and 1980, it was suggested that semen absorbed in sexual intercourse can reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer by “not less than 50%”, and that women using barrier contraceptives experience a higher risk of breast cancer. Similarly, it was shown that barrier methods of birth control may contribute to as much as 60% of preeclampsia cases — when a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and protein in the urine after the 20th week of pregnancy.

Note, these aren’t “Abstinence-until-marriage” talking points (although Barnes believes in that, too) but why you should have no birth control at all, even once you are married. Not even condoms.

So how did everyone on the anti-choice side end up so anti-condom? Could it be because it is the one form of contraception that the male tends to be in charge of, and that forces them to hold responsibility for the end result of having sex as much as the woman is? An interesting article in the Wall Street Journal explains the logic behind the anti-choice talking point that if a woman didn’t want a baby, she shouldn’t have had sex, and why men are left out of that equation.

Before the pill and abortion, unwanted pregnancy was a foreseeable risk of sexual intercourse, one that was equally beyond the control of both partners. Afterward, the matter was entirely under the control of the woman. It was, and is, a woman’s choice whether to use the pill and, if pregnancy results anyway, whether to have an abortion. The flip side of choice is responsibility. As both a legal and practical matter, women have “reproductive rights” and men do not. It was reasonable for men to conclude that women’s gain in control implied a reciprocal lifting of men’s responsibility.

So, are condoms “matches” for teens to set themselves on fire with, “barriers” that cause a woman sickness and mental issues, or a thing to avoid in order to place the entire responsibility for unintended pregnancy solely on a woman? Whichever of these is being touted at the time, one thing is clear — anti-choicers aren’t just against contraception and abortion, they are against any sexual act that doesn’t result in a child.

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