The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Birth Control:
Another Burden that Falls on Women

Sep 26, 2022

The question of reproductive rights has been in the news since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. But this question is not just about the legality of abortion. In this society, the burden of preventing pregnancy falls most heavily on women. It is made difficult in a society that doesn’t provide women with affordable and reliable access to health care and even turns it into a political issue. Some of those politicians who pass laws controlling women’s bodies even have the nerve to blame women if an unexpected pregnancy occurs. All of this falls even harder on working class women.

Condoms are a common method of birth control, yet they are by no means cheap. And as many women know, it’s not always easy to get men to wear one. They also don’t always work and can often break. Even though men are the ones who wear it, it’s still left up to women to make sure they don’t become pregnant.

The pill is more effective and gives women more control over when they get pregnant. However, unlike condoms, it requires a prescription from a doctor and insurance to help pay for it. Many women don’t have access to these things. The pill is cheap to produce, so in a decent society, it would be easily available. Different pills also work differently, with possible side effects ranging from acne, headaches and bloating to depression and blood clots. It can take months of trial and error to figure out which type works best for someone. But who has the time and resources to go through all of that? Plus, it has to be taken every day at the same time each day. With all of the responsibilities that capitalism imposes on women, it’s ridiculous to think that it’s possible to do that.

Some women turn to another, more infrequent option, which is a shot in the arm or thigh every three months. Once again, you need regular access to a doctor, time off work, health insurance and money to get it. If your insurance plan changes, it’s not easy to figure out where to go in order for the shot to be covered. A reasonable society would be able to provide consistent care and reminders, rather than making people deal with a complicated medical system that changes all the time.

The most effective option is an IUD. A doctor has to push a small device through the cervix and into the uterus while the woman is fully awake. It’s an invasive procedure that can often be very painful, with only the recommendation to take a couple of ibuprofen beforehand. As with any medical procedure, things can go wrong and the device may need to be reinserted or removed. Under normal circumstances, cramping and spotting can last up to one month afterward. Does anyone give women time off to deal with the pain and blood caused by the procedure? Of course not! Like with many things, women are expected to deal with the pain and continue their lives as usual. There could be other ways to make the process more manageable and less painful, but this society doesn’t prioritize women’s well-being.

The limited healthcare that is available to women is under attack, making it even harder for working women to gain access. Society needs to make safe and easy access to birth control methods a priority because pregnancy and children are an issue for the whole society. We have the means to do it, but it will take a fight to get it.