- The medical argument in favour of birth control.
- The human argument and the economic argument.
- The religious argument against it, and its answer.
- Some objections and their replies.
- A plea for clinics and government control.
The Birth control is not a modern phenomenon. Although just recently it has been more freely discussed than ever before, which has made some people think that it is a modern notion, doctors and scientists tell us that there are evidences of a conscious effort to prevent the conception of children even at the time of the Romans, and various documentary proofs of it are available in almost every age. It is also a well-known fact that in every country of the world, in villages as well as in towns, where the people are literațe as well as where they are illiterate, there is evidence that secretly a few primitive secrets of birth control are known.
We are therefore driven to the conclusion that in spite of many arguments that may be levelled against it human being do try to control the numbers in their families. If you ask a doctor what the arguments are for and against birth control, you will find that in perhaps more than 90% of cases the doctor will favour it. Some woman, due to physical disability or weakness cannot risk having another baby without grave danger to their lives and no conscientious doctor will in that case refuse the necessary knowledge. If a woman has two or three babies in quick succession and the quick coming of yet another baby threatens to weaken her unduly or cause the new child to be an ailing one, there is also a medical reason why the knowledge of birth control should not be withheld.
The human argument and the economic argument:
Man is a rational being, and likes to think that it is by this power of rationality, of thinking, of judging, of acting, in the way that he wills, that he is distinguished from the lower animals. It is only natural therefore that a rational man and wife should consider that they prefer to have a limited number of babies, whom they are able to bring up and educate in the way they desire, rather than a large number of babies who arrive whether they wish it or not. A desire for birth control does not mean that there is a dislike of children, or that they are regarded a burdens. Birth control does not mean “no babies.” It just means “better.. babies,” it does not mean “no motherhood,” but it means “conscious, deliberate, willing motherhood instead. It should be every woman’s birthright to have healthy babies, when and how she wants them; no woman should be just a machine for producing babies. The tragedy of frequent childbirth is to be seen very often in Indo-Pak subcontinent with its companions of early old age, ailing women, high infantile mortality and the like.
Economically speaking, the arguments for birth control are decisive. In bygone ages, and to a certain extent even today in countries such as present-day India, Pakistan, China and Africa, there were certain “checks” which kept down the increase in population, such as faminé, diseases, epidemics etc. With the progress of science, these checks became scarcer, doctors learn who to combat disease, to.. prevent the spread of epidemics. Concerted action is taken from the central government to control the ravages of famine. So the population freed from these checks is apt to increase too rapidly, and then the result is a population problem such as that of present day. Italy and Japan, which is so insistent that the result in both cases is an Imperialist “war of expansion.” If the alternative to birth control is the wholesale slaughter of men as mere “cannon fodder,” there must be few people who would chose the latter alternative. In these days of economic stress and unemployment, it is also only sane to advocate birth control rather than burden a young family with a number of children for whom they are unable to provide. There is a proverb that “every mouth brings with it a pair of hands,” but it must be – remembered that, although in the long run this may come true, it must be many weary years of hardship before a young baby can be expected to add to the family budget.
The religious agrument against it and its answer:
It must be admitted that there are many people with a religious objection to birth control, who say that it is not morally right to prevent the coming of young life. If and when both husband and wife hold this view, and when they find that self-control is a possibility for both, then it is only right that their feedings in the matter should be respected. But people who think like this should not imagine that it is at all possible for most young people to observe this strict rule, and there are also many cases where one partner is willing to observe it and the other cannot. There are certain “great souls” who may maintain these ideas. But the majority of healthy, happy normal human beings will find that physically, mentally, and nervously they are bound to suffer under a life of unnatural restraint. In that case the husband must decide which is the greater sin (if he looks upon it that way)……to prevent scientifically the further conception of children or to see his young wife and a large family of children suffering from continued ill-health.
Some objections and their reply. Many of those who speak against birth control put forward the argument that on medical grounds it is inadvisable because it creates sterility in the woman. The best answer to this argument is the official report of the British Birth Control Clinics, which deny on overwhelming evidence that the use of contraceptives causes sterility. Others say that propaganda in favour of birth control and the opening of a clinic for it encourages immorality. It might well be retorted that for those who desire it, the knowledge is always available, those who wish to put the knowledge to bad use will find ways and means all the world over. But this should not stand in the way of those who are too poor to help themselves……it is for the sake of the poor and the illiterate that propaganda for birth control should be carried on.
A plea for birth control clinics:
Another argument against birth control is that it is the rich and educated families who limit the number of their children and not the poor ones, and that to advocate brith control means that the proportion of poor and weak members of the population will increase. But surely this is only another argument for the encouragement of birth control propaganda. If, under the present “hush-hush” system, it is the rich who take advantage of the system, then means should be devised so that the masses can learn its secrets and so better their lot. The people who can really benefit by birth control are the poorest peasants and workmen in the towns whose condition of life is the most miserable, and for them it is necessary that free birth control clinics should be organised, with good financial backing, so that working women can get the necessary information and free appliances when they are in real need of them. The foundation of birth control clinic is therefore essential in any campaign to better the health of a nation. More than this, countries such as India and Pakistan where there is a great deal of opposition on the ground of ignorance, women should be trained who can go round from house to house, particularly among the villages, to teach and preach to the women this new aid which has come to them through medical science.