Conflict: Using Birth Control When You Want Kids

Are the new abortion restrictions being passed in some U.S. states relevant for us here at Childless by Marriage? As you probably know, Texas recently passed a law prohibiting abortion, for any reason, after the sixth week of pregnancy, about the time a heartbeat can be detected. At that point, many women don’t even know they are pregnant. Even if they do, by the time they make arrangements, it may be beyond the six weeks. In practical terms, most abortions are therefore illegal. At the moment, the Texas ban has been blocked while it goes through court challenges, but there does seem to be a trend toward more restrictive abortion laws.

I’m not going to argue pro-life vs. pro-choice here. I’m Catholic; you can guess how I feel, but I also realize that many women are going to seek abortions no matter what the law says, so why not make it safe for them to do it?

What does this have to do with being childless by marriage?

While researching my Childless by Marriage book, I discovered that far more women had had abortions than I ever suspected. For some, the abortion ended their only chance at motherhood; later circumstances kept them from having children. Some had abortions because their partners insisted that they did not want them to have a baby, at least not then.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are 189 abortions per 1,000 live births and 11.3 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15–44 years. More than half of those women are in their 20s, and most of those abortions are performed at around the 13th week of pregnancy.

Abortion is sometimes used as a method of birth control for those willing to take a chance that they will not get pregnant and that they can abort if they do. Now the women in Texas and other states where regulations are being tightened to the point of prohibiting most abortions may be feeling there is no way out.

Most of us have used other forms of birth control, including contraceptive pills and patches, IUDs, diaphragms, and condoms. These methods require at least one partner to take responsibility. Ideally, they should both agree that they want to use birth control. Diaphragms and condoms require the cooperation of both parties. The pill and the IUD may have negative effects on the woman’s health. They can also be discontinued without the male partner knowing. How many of us whose partners have been hesitant to make babies have been told by well-meaning friends or relatives to just stop taking the pill and have an “oops” baby? Most of us, I’ll bet.

We’re far from the days when our ancestors could only prevent pregnancy by giving up sex, but it can still be a touchy situation, especially when we want to have children and know that pill we’re taking every morning or that condom we’re using every time we have sex is making it impossible.

So I ask you:

1. How do you feel about conservative politicians eliminating abortion as a birth control method? Does that have anything to do with your situation?

2. If you’re using birth control, how do you feel about it? Do resent that pill, hate that condom? Does your partner insist you use them or just assume that it’s “take care of”? Are you able to discuss it freely with them?

Please share in the comments. You can be completely anonymous. This blog does not work without your input.

Thank you all for being here.


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He forgot to mention his vasectomy?

Dear friends,

Have you ever been tempted to lie to get your way in the baby debate? When I was young and fertile, some of my older relatives suggested I simply stop using birth control without telling my husband. He would come around once I got pregnant. I’ll bet some of you have heard that advice, too. Leave out the diaphragm or don’t take the pill and pretty soon, oops we’re pregnant, I just don’t know how that could have happened. I always argued that that wasn’t fair, that you didn’t deceive someone you loved like that, but I suspect that quite a few women have done it.

What about you? Have you been tempted to secretly skip the birth control so you could “accidentally” get pregnant? Or have you gone the other way, not telling your partner you’re on the pill because you didn’t want to have a baby?

If you’re a guy, have you ever lied one way or the other about having a vasectomy in the hope of either making a baby or preventing a pregnancy you didn’t want?

Men and women, have you been the victim of this kind of secrecy? You thought you could or could not get pregnant, but your partner was not telling you the truth?

I received this comment at the old site today:

Anonymous said…

I am in my mid-30s and my husband is mid-50s. We have been married eight years. Before we decided to get married, we agreed to have at least one child together (he has two adult children). We have never prevented pregnancy. I thought something was wrong with me! Why couldn’t I get pregnant when everyone else around me was popping out babies left and right?

Just before our second anniversary, he casually referred to the vasectomy he had over 15 years before, after the birth of his last child. What? All the time we had talked about and planned to have a baby, he had not once mentioned a vasectomy. We even had baby names and schools picked out for our future child!

To say that I was (am) devastated is a true understatement. Six years have passed since then, and I still have not come to terms or in any way accepted this “forced” childlessness. My heart hurts so much sometimes that I don’t feel like I have the strength to take a shower or brush my teeth. The only thing I ever really wanted to “achieve” in life was being a mom! I know that adoption or IVF are out there, but I sure don’t have the money.

I try to tell myself that having a good relationship with my husband and no kids is better than having a poor relationship with him and lots of kids. This doesn’t heal or even soothe my ache; I just hope if I repeat it enough, I will start to believe it someday.
I wish I knew what to say to all of us suffering from childlessness. My hat is off to you, Sue, for trying to help.

Oh, by the way, I had a vasectomy 15 years ago?!! I don’t know what I would have done. The thought makes me so angry I want to punch something.

I think this kind of deception goes way beyond “little white lies.” What do you think?