Coerced Contraception? Moral and Policy Challenges of Long-Acting Birth Control

Coerced Contraception? Moral and Policy Challenges of Long-Acting Birth Control

Coerced Contraception? Moral and Policy Challenges of Long-Acting Birth Control

Coerced Contraception? Moral and Policy Challenges of Long-Acting Birth Control

Excerpt

In December 1990 the United States Food and Drug Administration approved the contraceptive Norplant. It is a highly effective birth control method, consisting of six small hormone-releasing rods that are inserted in a woman's upper arm and last up to five years. Norplant was the first wholly new contraceptive option to become available in the United States since the pill's introduction in 1960. After nearly twenty-five years of research, including clinical trials involving 55,000 women in forty-four countries, and after some 500,000 had already used the method worldwide, American women had a new and different birth control alternative.

To many, Norplant seemed like a welcome addition to women's contraceptive options and choices, and it quickly caught on in the United States. Nationwide, Norplant was soon eligible for state Medicaid coverage. Private sales exceeded projections during the first year despite its relatively high initial cost, which was in the $500 to $1000 range.

However, the honeymoon with Norplant was short-lived. It was soon embroiled in a thicket of controversy. A few months after the FDA approval, a California judge presiding over a case of a woman convicted of criminal child abuse had imposed implantation with Norplant in lieu of a lengthy prison sentence. That ruling attracted national media attention. Shortly thereafter, a bill was introduced in the Kansas legislature that offered women on welfare a cash bonus if they agreed to use the contraceptive. Other states began to look at similar measures as well as laws to require Norplant use for women convicted of drug charges.

Outside of the criminal justice and social welfare context, the issue of teens using Norplant also caught the public eye. Public health officials in Baltimore made that city the focus of controversy when they announced plans to add Norplant to existing school-based reproductive health services and proposed to pilot test the program in one predominantly African-American high school. Even before the program could be implemented, it came under attack. Although many parents and students at the school favored the plan, some local clergy and community leaders mounted a protest campaign against it, expressing concerns about the health effects of Norplant, the morality of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.