“Well, there is no test to become a parent.” I often hear this this mentioned during discussions about child raising, adoption, and abortion. This line is typically said with a zest of jest, but it is worth contemplating. Yes, there is no test, and there should never be a test. Talk to any teacher to see how standardized testing harms our public school system. Additionally, its impossible to develop any IQ test without a hearty does of inherent racial, cultural, and socioeconomic bias. Its a human right to live, love, and breed. No government should be able to take that away.
Today, there are a few ways to purposefully prevent becoming a parent. Condoms, IUD’s, and the Pill allow humans to make a conscious decision about fertility. Though these solutions have their shortcomings (availability, reliability, etc.), they mostly solve the issue of unexpected pregnancy, but only for the individuals who choose to use them. Unfortunately, when it comes to birth control, indecision is in itself a decision. It does not matter if its due to financials, laziness, naivety, or beliefs, not using birth control leaves one susceptible to a life changing surprise.
Lets run through a thought experiment to flip this system on its head. What if, by default, each and every fertile member of our society, both male and female, took a form of birth control? Then, the only way to have fertile seed or a fertile womb, would be to take an ‘antidote’ pill. This pill, when taken, would neutralize the effects of the birth control for one month. To obtain this pill, you would go to any pharmacy, pay a small amount of money (say, $5), and then you’d receive your pill for that month. Each person would be able to receive one pill per month.
With this system in place, our nation’s relation to pregnancy would be shifted. Now, the default decision is, ‘I am not ready to be a parent’ (as it should be for every horny 15 year old). To change one’s mind, one must make a small effort each month to ingest a fertility pill. Systems will be in place to make acquiring the pill easy and cheap for every single member of our society. Here, pregnancy would require more than just two consenting individuals. It would require two consenting individuals who have thought enough about the topic to go out of their way, slightly, to ensure fertility.
The benefits of this system are plentiful.
Currently, if someone forgets to take birth control for a month, there are potentially dire consequences. In the new system, forgetting to take a pill for a month simply delays a possible pregnancy by 28 days. Also, every parent would be fully invested in their child because they would have made a premeditated, conscious choice to bring the child into this world. Perhaps abortion rates would decrease, as there would be fewer unexpected pregnancies.
Of course, there are plenty of issues with this concept. First, this will never fly in a country where many people oppose all forms of birth control. Second, the possibility that we can develop a drug, with no side effects, that accomplishes this goal is unlikely. Third, as with any real world program, equal access to the fertility pill will be difficult, if not impossible. It could be argued that any imperfection leading to poor distribution could be a form of eugenics. Additionally, this whole idea relies on a foundation of privilege, which should not be over looked. In places with high infant mortality rates, a family cannot afford to externally minimize the number of births.
I see one main reason why this system will not work. Any implementation is guaranteed to cause negative consequences. We, as a society, are reluctant to adopt any system that will cause harm, even if the new harm is far lesser in magnitude than the current harm. This can be seen in the moral dilemma of self driving cars: even though autonomous vehicles have the potential to drastically reduce car related deaths, the frightening idea of an AI causing a even single death convinces many to oppose this advancement.
What we may find is that Opt Out Pregnancy Control is only appealing to those in our society who already use Birth Control. If this is the case, rolling out a nation wide program would directly infringe on the freedoms of many. In this intimate world of fertility, we must avoid imposing our personal wishes on others. There seems to be no gain in developing an oxymoronic Opt In ‘Opt Out Pregnancy Control’ system. Seems that this whole idea, though promising, should never move past an interesting conversation.
Oh, and the title you ask? The name for this idea is Opt Out Pregnancy Control - OOPC (pronounced ‘Oopsie’). Lets continue this conversation in order to prevent as many oopsie’s as possible.
Header photo © gynefert.hu/