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What is it to Share Contraceptive Responsibility?

Abstract

There are three stages at which procreative outcomes can be prevented or altered: (1) prior to conception (2) during pregnancy and (3) after birth. Daniel Engster (Soc Theory Pract 36(2):233–262, 2010) has ably argued that plans to prevent or alter procreative outcomes at stages (2) and (3)—through abortion and adoption—introduce financial, physical, and emotional hardships to which women are disproportionately vulnerable. In this paper, I argue that plans to prevent or alter undesirable procreative outcomes at stage (1)—through contraception use—similarly disadvantage women. I suggest that accounts proposing moral responsibilities to delay or permanently avoid procreation are insufficiently attentive to the methods through which undesirable procreative outcomes might be prevented and how such methods unfairly burden women. In conclusion, I propose several ways that men and women might more equitably share contraceptive responsibility.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Because this paper is primarily concerned with reproductive responsibilities of heterosexual, cisgender men and women, I frequently use the terms “men”/”males” and “women”/”females” interchangeably (see Sect. 3.6).

  2. 2.

    “Typical use” indicates the effectiveness of contraception used by the average person over time. “Perfect use” indicates the effectiveness of contraception used perfectly every time. Most people are not perfect users and should rely on typical use estimations.

  3. 3.

    The term “trans*” inclusively refers to transgender men and women, agender, genderqueer, bi-gender, non-binary gender, etc.; “trans” without an asterisk refers specifically to transgender men or women.

  4. 4.

    Originally quoted by Oudshoorn (2004, 357–359).

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Acknowledgments

I am grateful to Allen Wood, Sandra Shapshay, Kirk Ludwig, Noralyn Masselink, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

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Correspondence to Emmalon Davis.

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Davis, E. What is it to Share Contraceptive Responsibility?. Topoi 36, 489–499 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11245-015-9342-3

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Keywords

  • Contraception
  • Gender
  • Sex
  • Procreation
  • Shared responsibility
  • Medicine
  • Birth control
  • Male contraception