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Monday, July 12, 2010

The Male Birth Control Pill

When I first came across this article on the male birth control pill I wasn’t sure what to think of it.

Birth control is a tricky subject, even leaving aside any ethical or religious issues. Regardless of who is responsible for birth control, it is the woman who is the most impacted by a pregnancy.

She is the one who has to suffer the slings and arrows of the outrageous fortunes known as pregnancy and childbirth. Oft times she is accompanied and supported by a partner but in many cases she is all alone. Sometimes she is the one who is left to make that most difficult of all decisions regarding whether to allow the pregnancy to continue or not.

So it is hard to argue for a male birth control pill when it is the woman who is affected. Harder still to imagine a woman relinquishing control of her body to someone else. A condom is a tangible form of birth control, something that a woman will know if a man is using or not. A pill? Not so much.

Admittedly men are put in this position every day but the impact of a mistake or worse, a calculated deception, isn’t the same. Don’t get me wrong, there are some very real consequences for men in situations like this but nothing like those faced by women.

So I can’t see this becoming casually common, not like the female birth control pill is. The consequences of a mistake, not the mention the risk of unprotected sex, are too great.

However there is a place for the male birth control for couples in a committed relationship.

The article states that during animal test (mice),

“…all their sex behavior was retained, which is a very important consideration for human men. A man who takes this pill could also be sexually active later on and have children.”

“Rather than undergo an irreversible vasectomy, a man could sterilize himself for short periods…

It also provides another option for Jewish couples.

“…it should be well received by religiously observant Jews. According to Jewish law, castration of any animal - human or non-human - is forbidden; not to mention that ’spilling seed’ or ejaculating outside the female body is not permitted. “

Despite it’s inherent limitations, it will be interesting to see what role this pill plays and how it affects the dynamics of a relationship.

posted by David at 12:01 am  

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