CSW61: “Contraception is a lifesaving service”

| March 31, 2017

During the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61), Denmark hosted an event on March 20th, 2017 on “Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health in Emergency Response.” The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) co-hosted the event.

Panelists informed the audience of the great need for sexual and reproductive health centers in countries that are in war or that suffered natural disasters. The Permanent Minster of the Republic of Zambia, Edwidge Mutale, mentioned that Zambia carries a “burden that there is no way to providing sexual reproductive services in these [refugee] camps.” Similar to Mutale, Jane Kiragu—an advisor to the First Lady of Kenya Margaret Kenyatta mentioned “large communities of refugees’ protections are at risk… [the] Key issues to this are because of malnutrition, infectious disease (typhoid), and sexual exploitation.” Both these women said refugee camps should have health clinics.

Kiragu mentioned an organization the First Lady created—Beyond Zero, which consist of mobile health clinics found in refugee camps, or fragile cities, for people to gain quicker access to reproductive health. The Kenyan First Lady ostensibly created the organization to “invest in health and see that women are engaged with healthy families which will equal to a healthy nation and productivity,” Kiragu said.  He also said it will help women gain access to abortion, especially to protect women who would die giving birth in a crisis or normal situation, and the only condition under which abortion is permitted in Kenyan law.

Kesaya Baba a global youth leader for the Youth Coalition for Sexual & Reproductive Rights was presented as a voice for the youth. She said women should be “saved from unwanted pregnancies” and that “emergency contraception should be provided to those [who are] raped.” As a native from Fiji, she wanted youth to speak out and be able to access contraception which she called a “lifesaving service.”

It is odd that contraception would be described as a ‘lifesaving service.’ I for one as a young woman do not think it is.

Hormonal contraception can actually be a life threating service can cause several detrimental health effects, including increased risk of HIV/AIDS and other STDs, osteoporosis, and breast cancer. Moreover, young people should be protected from false and misleading information about any contraception, including the false notion of “safe sex.”

In the United States, over 110 million people live with a sexually transmitted disease at any given time. Each year 20 million young people aged 15-14 are newly infected, despite the wide availability of sex education in U.S. schools and the fact that surveys indicate that young Americans who have sex use contraception nearly 90% of the time. In America, at least it would seem there cannot be such a thing as “safe sex.” And, contraception is not saving any lives.

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