Jeremy Hunt (Conservative Health Secretary) seems to believe that women should be stopped from having sex by threat of pregnancy hence his opposition to make the morning-after pill being made more accessible. NICE, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, has produced guidelines that recommend increased access for over 16s to the morning-after pill, these include it becoming free, being given in advance of need and being more widely dispensed, from school nurses to pharmacists.
Some worry that by supplying it in advance women would be more promiscuous knowing that whatever they do they will have the pill to fall back on, and reduce the incentives for safe sex. For years now teenage pregnancy has been going down which would imply young women are increasingly able and knowledgeable about how to protect themselves but there is always work to do.
Promiscuousness in itself, if taken away from moral and emotional objections, is not measurably negative. Since the emancipation of women as a gender women have become more promiscuous. How many women today believe in waiting for marriage for sex, have only one sexual partner in a lifetime, or have sex solely to conceive children. Most married couples use ‘family planning’ even the middle-aged and married may find use in having a fail safe.
Others criticise such measures as using abortion as a form of contraception with all the ethical questions this brings up. The morning-after pill works by preventing the fertilised egg from embedding in the womb and developing beyond this two cell stage, whether you consider this the equivalent of abortion depends on your own beliefs. But away from ethics the morning after pill is cheaper, less emotionally and physically traumatic, and has fewer side effects than abortion.
Our beliefs about sexuality are still influenced by archaic rules from earlier times. That women are tarnished by sex, that a woman who enjoys sex is a slut, that a woman’s job is to protect her honour, and that to be raped was to have misled a man. While women should be worried about the health effects of STDs contracted through unsafe sex so should men, protective measures should not be solely the domain of women.
Does this government see women as equal to men? Do their tax breaks, rewards, for married couples imply a staid idea of what modern women should aspire to? That is for you to decide.