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Women`s Issues/Birth control over the counter

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Question
Hello Sonia. Recently there has been some debate over whether or not birth control pills should be available over the counter. Of course the "right to lifers" are opposed, and a spokeswoman for a local "crisis pregnancy center" actually came right out and said (in a newspaper interview) that the reason she was against it was basically because it would give people (particularly women) permission to be "promiscuous" and she believed that sex should be saved for marriage. I just rolled my eyes at that! I mean, isn't that kind of unrealistic? Things are not like they used to be. First of all, women have options now and not all women WANT to get married. But that certainly doesn't mean they don't ever want to have sex! Lets face it. Women have needs too! And isn't the whole idea of saving oneself for marriage based on a biblical belief? Not all of us are christians. But the issue of whether or not it was safe was raised, and  that as what I am concerned about. Obviously I am pro-choice, and support a woman's right to contraception and abortion. However, I am concerned that if birth control became available over the counter it could be harmful to some women. For instance, women with certain health conditions shouldn't take the pill, and the pill might interact with another one of their medications etc etc I personally HATED the pill. I have been on Depo-Provera for years, and I LOVE it! But I digress. What do you think? Should the pill be available over the counter? And what about the safety issue? And feel free to comment on the whole issue of those who oppose it for moral/religious reasons. I really don't understand though. If you are SO against abortion, wouldn't you rather a girl/woman use the pill then get pregnant and possibly abort?

Answer
Dear Heather:

I've never given any thought to birth control over the counter and have no expertise in the matter, but I went to google.com and found a good many articles discussing the issues.  I sugggest you go to google.com, type in something like "birth countrol over counter," and you can read the pro's and con's in these articles.

I also can't tell you much about the rationales or consistency, or lack of it, in the views of people who oppose both birth control and abortion since those are not, of course, my views. People who oppose contraception really lost that battle decades ago but don't yet realize it. I can see where people would oppose abortion if they believe that life begins at conception. I do not hold with that view and believe that the life of the adult mother is more important than that of a fetus, but I can understand why some people hold that view.

I think the most important thing one can do is decide on one's own views, based hopefully on sensible reasons, and go forward. You cannot expect everyone to share your views, even if their views are irrational, and you cannot necessarily convince them that your views are correct.  I think it is important for you to state your views, at appropriate times, to let others know you do not agree with them, but that is all generally you need to do. If you are so inclined, it is also good to join and support organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and NOW, if those or their counterparts exist in Ontario, Canada.

Best,
Sonia
website: http://www.erraticimpact.com/fuentes

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Sonia Pressman Fuentes

Expertise

I am an author, public speaker, feminist leader and lawyer. I was the first woman attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) and a founder of WEAL (Women`s Equity Action League) and FEW (Federally Employed Women). I am an expert in the field of women`s rights to be free of employment discrimination based on sex.

Experience

I spent eight years as an attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and worked for one year as a volunteer attorney with the Montgomery County, MD, Human Relations Commission. I have lectured all over the world and the U.S. on women's rights to be free of employment discrimination based on sex and had articles on the subject published in newspapers, magazines, and journals and on the Internet. I also spent 11 years with multinational corporations in the field of EEO and labor law.

Organizations
I belong to NOW and the Veteran Feminists of America nationally and the Brandeis University National Women's Committee in Sarasota, FL. I am a member of the board of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State in Sarasota, FL.

Publications
See my Web site at http://www.erraticimpact.com/fuentes for articles written by me, information on my memoir, "Eat First--You Don't Know What They'll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter," and interviews of me.

Education/Credentials
I have an LLB from the University of Miami School of Law in Florida.

Awards and Honors
I received a superior performance award at the EEOC and was inducted into the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame, among other awards and honors.

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