Ethics of Male Birth Control
Ethics of Male Birth Control
His Body… His Responsibility? The Ethical Implications of New Male Birth Control Options
By Sahana Kapoor
Male contraception has long been an area of scientific exploration and debate, offering the potential for greater reproductive autonomy as well as sharing the burden of contraception between partners. While the focus of birth control has primarily been directed toward women, recent developments in male contraception including new oral pills and skin gels have sparked discussions surrounding the ethics of their development, accessibility, and whether men even have a responsibility to use it. This paper explores the ethical implications of male contraception through an examination of the values of equality, fairness, responsibility, and the bioethical principle of beneficence to offer conclusions on the social, cultural, and individual importance and effects of male birth control
Table of Contents
- Male Birth Control Background
- Ethics – Equality & Fairness
- Ethics – Responsibility
- Dobbs Decision
- Ethics – Beneficence
Picture this: you, a man, walk into a pharmacy one day and notice a vibrant red banner catching your attention. It proudly declares, “Introducing the revolutionary male birth control pill – now available!” As you approach the display, you can’t help but feel a mix of curiosity and excitement, wondering what this new pill could mean for you and the future of contraception as a whole. With this new male contraceptive on this horizon, you and your partner now find yourself grappling with a complex web of questions surrounding gender roles and reproductive justice. Out of the two of you, who bears the primary responsibility to take birth control? As a man, you wonder whether it is fair to expect your partner to continue using contraception when male birth control is now readily accessible. As a woman, you ask yourself whether you are ready to trust and rely on male birth control as a primary contraceptive method, as it is relatively new and its long-term effects are unknown. You ask, how will this change gender dynamics within your relationship? As the development of new male birth control methods gains momentum, the possibility of this world where men have more control over their reproductive health is becoming a reality. This paper will explore the ethical implications of these emerging birth control options for men, specifically whether they bear a moral duty to use it, and examine how they may reshape the dynamics of relationships and alter the conversation around reproductive rights.
Historically, women have borne the lion’s share of responsibility for preventing conception. Most of the available contraceptive options are designed to be used by women: oral contraceptives (the pill), intrauterine devices (IUD), shots, patches, and even sterilization. Hence, the users of these contraceptive methods bear the unpleasant physical and emotional side effects that come with hormonal birth control. Men, on the other hand, have had only two main options when it comes to individually preventing conception: condoms and vasectomy. There are other, less effective methods such as withdrawal or sexual abstinence, however, this paper will focus mainly on barrier contraceptive methods and pharmaceutical birth controls. Condoms are often used incorrectly which can decrease their efficacy, and vasectomy is a frequently irreversible procedure with lifelong consequences. As a result, researchers have been working to develop new alternatives for male contraception, such as gels and oral pills.
One ethical implication of researching new methods of male birth control is the possible impact on male reproductive autonomy. New male birth control options could potentially shift the responsibility of contraception towards men, changing power dynamics within relationships as men will have a greater ability to prevent pregnancy and control over when and whether to have children. Further concerns may arise regarding the nature of a man’s general obligation to ethically impact others and what that means in society. Naturally, birth control in today’s society is interpersonal; even in casual partnerships, there is often communication and therefore collaboration between partners about what forms of birth control are to be used between them. Thus, it is critical to acknowledge that women and men are not members of starkly opposed groups when it comes to controlling reproduction. However, by virtue of the brevity of this paper, I will consider contraception in terms of one’s individual means to regulate reproduction out of their own autonomy for their own body. I will analyze the implications of the Dobbs decision (overturning the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling in Roe v Wade) and suggest that the Dobbs decision may increase societal pressure and personal motivations to use birth control. Utilizing the values of equality, fairness, safety, and responsibility along with the bioethical principle of beneficence, I will assess the impacts of new male birth control on the stakeholders: partners in a relationship, potential children, and society as a whole. In this paper, I will postulate that men have a moral duty to use birth control, and these new methods will change and create new ethical norms for men.
An obligation is imposed on an individual by a framework such as laws, rules, and regulations. Duty, on the other hand, comes from the sense of moral or legal necessity that guides an individual to act a certain way.
As an initial matter, one must understand the difference between duty and obligation. An obligation is imposed on an individual by a framework such as laws, rules, and regulations. Duty, on the other hand, comes from the sense of moral or legal necessity that guides an individual to act a certain way. In my paper, I am referring to a man’s moral duty to use birth control, although I may use obligation in certain contexts. In defining a duty, one must ask to whom this duty is owed. I will argue that a man’s duty is owed to his partner, himself, potential children, and society as a whole. The widespread use of male birth control would benefit society and one’s partner by mitigating unwanted pregnancies, thereby forestalling not only the burden of birth and pregnancy but also the financial, emotional, and career burdens that would arise if one had to support a child that arose from an unplanned pregnancy. Thus, I further define duty by virtue of consequences, rather than intention. The ethical question I will be addressing is: do men have a duty to utilize new methods of male contraception to help reduce the risk of unwanted pregnancy?
Male Birth Control Background
Currently, men who seek to prevent pregnancy can use condoms or undergo a vasectomy. Condoms work as a ‘barrier’ by preventing pregnancy by stopping sperm from meeting an egg. When used correctly, they are a reliable method of birth control (98% effectiveness) that can also protect both partners from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Vasectomy, or male sterilization, works by stopping sperm from entering a man’s semen. These tubes that carry sperm are cut, blocked, or sealed with heat, and thus a female egg is unable to be fertilized. It is a quick and relatively painless surgical procedure that is more than 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. Additionally, it does not affect male hormone levels or sex drive/ability. Although there are evident benefits to these two birth control procedures, there are drawbacks to their practicality. Condoms are often used incorrectly, decreasing their efficacy to 87%, as they can tear, leak, or slip off. Furthermore, people who are allergic to latex cannot use latex condoms. Condom use is also sometimes associated with urinary tract infections. Conversely, vasectomies are meant to be permanent, and thus they are not always able to be reversed. Due to this, men who may want to father a child in the future or do not consider the long-term consequences when getting a vasectomy are at risk for lifelong regret. Moreover, the procedure can cause side effects after the surgery such as bleeding, blood in semen, bruising, infection, and pain or discomfort.
In the past few years, researchers have been working to develop new methods of male birth control. The first is a hormone-based clear gel that a man applies daily by rubbing it onto the shoulder, by the name of NES/T (Nestorone®/Testosterone). It inhibits sperm production but maintains sexual function and its effects are reversible as sperm levels return to normal once the man ceases to use the product. NES/T was developed in a collaboration between the Population Council and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Contraceptive Development Program. It is the first male birth control product that has advanced beyond the initial steps in the clinical trial process, consisting of several phases under the US Food and Drug Administration. NES/T’s two active ingredients have been deemed safe and effective for other purposes which should improve the chance of success during Phase III of the clinical trial process which no male birth contraceptive product has ever reached before. However, since Nestorone lowers testosterone levels in the testes, it also reduces testosterone in the blood, decreasing a man’s sexual drive and function. To counter this, the gel also contains synthetic testosterone to maintain blood testosterone levels in the normal range without increasing testicular testosterone to a level that would restart sperm production. In terms of reliability, NES/T has undergone a two-year study with several couples that have shared their positive experiences and offered their enthusiastic support for the product in a variety of interviews. Several of the couples involved in the study have opted to have children, and their rates of conception are similar to those of the general population, which reaffirms the reversibility of NES/T and indicates that a user’s future fertility does not appear to be impaired.
Another potential option for male contraception is a non-hormonal oral pill that targets a protein called the retinoic acid receptor alpha (RAR-α). This is different from most of the other oral contraceptive attempts that target the male sex hormone testosterone, which could lead to side effects such as weight gain, depression, and increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. The protein that scientists are striving to lessen, RAR-α, binds retinoic acid which is a form of Vitamin A that is essential to cell growth, differentiation (including sperm formation), and embryonic development. In mice, eliminating the RAR-α gene makes them sterile without obvious side effects. Other scientists are aiming to develop an oral compound that inhibits all three members of the RAR family, (RAR-α, -β, and -γ), causing reverse infertility but with the possibility of increased side effects. By examining the crystal structures within the RAR gene’s bond with retinoic acid, researchers were able to design 100 compounds and evaluate their ability to inhibit RAR cells. One compound, YCT529, reduced RAR-α over 500 times and was 99% effective in preventing pregnancy in mice, without any observable side effects. As a result of this, YCT529 has begun human clinical testing, hopefully bringing the elusive oral male contraceptive to fruition. The prices of both NES/T and the oral contraceptive are currently unknown.
Studies surrounding contraception and reproductive health have been occurring since the 1960s, however, the majority of these studies focused on contraceptive options for women. It wasn’t until the 1970s that scientists first began exploring the possibility of developing a male hormonal contraceptive. One of the early attempts involved using cottonseed oil as a medium for creating a male hormonal contraceptive, which proved to be ineffective. In the 1980s, the World Health Organization demonstrated that a weekly injection of testosterone is effective as a contraceptive method in men. However, this approach also had notable side effects that limited its widespread adoption. NES/T and the new male pill are relatively recent with milestone achievements in the past year. Nevertheless, testing has been transpiring for many years and has undergone necessary FDA and regulatory approvals. Although recent advancements in the field of contraception for both men and women have proved beneficial, they have also brought to light the existence of complex gender disparities.
Although recent advancements in the field of contraception for both men and women have proved beneficial, they have also brought to light the existence of complex gender disparities.
Ethics – Equality & Fairness
As it stands, women take primary responsibility for the use of contraceptives. Utilizing the value of fairness, it is essential to evaluate the lack of equality within contraceptive applications. The various options of female birth control tend to be more expensive than male birth control. On average, condoms cost around $1 each and are easily accessible in any convenience store, whereas female condoms, which are not as widely available as male condoms, cost around $3 each. Without insurance, female birth control pills cost around $20 to $50 per pack, which totals an annual cost of $240 to $600. Other methods such as IUDs can cost up to $1300 without insurance. Along with the economic burden, most female birth control requires physician visits as well as renewable prescriptions. Additionally, many insurance plans do not cover contraception and, of the 28 states that mandate insurance plans to cover contraception, 20 of them have opt-out clauses for religious or ethical reasons. Many methods used by females have more serious side effects than male methods, often due to hormones or procedural issues. Condoms carry no side effects and vasectomy doesn’t cause any noticeable aftereffects with serious complications being rare. Common side effects of female birth control include bleeding, headaches, nausea, bloating, increased blood pressure, and depression. Additionally, the two available male forms of contraception, condoms, and vasectomy, carry fewer health risks than their corresponding female methods, female barrier contraceptives, and tubal ligation. Beyond the health and financial-related considerations, women also have to deal with the approach to their reproductive health as something that elicits suffering and is medically abnormal. For them, trying to prevent pregnancy can require medical visits and invasive procedures that can result in adverse health impacts and expenses, particularly if they lack health insurance. If their families oppose their use of contraception, they may face social repercussions. If their efforts to prevent pregnancy fail, they may face lasting physical and mental health consequences and a possible moral reproach. One promising study from 2016 displayed found that an injectable form of male birth control was effective and reversible, but the study was halted after men dropped out and the medical board supervising it became concerned about side effects. The side effects consisted of acne, pain at the injection site, mood swings, and increased libido. These burdens are similar to many side effects of women’s hormonal birth control, which are consequences that are regarded as almost necessary or inevitable. Thus, it is plausible to conclude that today’s culture is more comfortable subjecting women to pain in order to bear the consequences of birth control than subjecting men to it.
It is plausible to conclude that today’s culture is more comfortable subjecting women to pain in order to bear the consequences of birth control than subjecting men to it.
When it comes to the history of birth control, men have generally been involved in the use of contraception due to their traditional role as the head of the household. However, the contraceptive industry saw an economic opportunity in making contraception a woman’s responsibility by encouraging “feminine-hygiene” products. This paved the way for the success of the birth control pill, reinforcing a woman’s role as a contraceptive consumer. After this societal shift, men’s obligations and involvement in contraceptive decisions were drastically reduced. Additionally, since women are the ones who carry children, the incentive to use birth control is decreased because men see fewer consequences for them than for a woman. This assumption is based on socially constructed gender roles because women are viewed as the primary caretaker of children, although it should ethically be an equal parental responsibility if one were to consider this dilemma through a deontological lens of Kantian moral duty. Still, it is essential to note that this societal shift and availability of the female pill significantly enhanced women’s sexual, bodily, and reproductive autonomy by making them the primary decision-maker in contraceptive choices. This empowerment played a crucial role in enabling women to gain greater access to professional opportunities and other traditionally male-dominated realms in the years that followed.
We may not be used to thinking of it this way, but a man’s reproductive autonomy is significantly inhibited by the lack of male contraception.
One ethical consideration is the issue of reproductive autonomy and responsibility. We may not be used to thinking of it this way, but a man’s reproductive autonomy is significantly inhibited by the lack of male contraception. Condoms have a moderate failure rate and many men who want to maintain the possibility of having biological children are not able to regulate their reproduction in the way that women are. If a male birth control pill or similar option were to become available, it could potentially shift the responsibility for contraception more toward men, which may be seen as a positive development by those who feel men have not had enough control over their reproductive rights, in comparison to the much larger jurisdiction maintained by women. Men continue to remain socially and financially responsible for any children they father and thus should have the right and duty to control when and whether they would like to have children.
Some may argue that morally requiring men to use male birth control could shift gender dynamics in a negative way by infringing on men’s autonomy and bodily rights. And therefore, if male birth control is shown to display even mild side effects, are we in turn acting unfairly by encouraging and/or pressuring men (if we say they have a moral duty) to bear the consequences of contraception when they do not bear children? Furthermore, normalizing and encouraging male use of contraception could lead to more struggles in regard to open conversations about contraceptives and reproductive autonomy, as people will choose methods if available. However, this claim can be disproved due to the way that women have had to bear unpleasant side effects due to societal pressures and because they would be left with the child in an unplanned pregnancy. Furthermore, just because a female carries a baby, that does not denote the fact that men and women are not equal partners in creating a child, in fact, it is the man’s ejaculation that initiates the development of the fetus. Thus, instead of both parties having to bear the distressing impacts of birth control, a societal shift is necessary to change the preconceived notions and stigma surrounding contraception. Consequently, both men and women in a partnership can feel comfortable communicating about reproduction, so as to share the burden of side effects under the value of fairness.
Others who disagree also may assert that stereotypes regarding contraception and preventing pregnancy usually view men’s use of birth control as unmanly, and rather as a woman’s responsibility. Hence, this societal stigma will hinder the widespread use of male contraception, as they may fear being perceived as weak or not masculine enough. Overall, it would be difficult to reshape a man’s perception of his masculinity and power to impregnate a woman. Additionally, there is a misconception that birth control is only used by promiscuous individuals, which has led to a moral judgment of men who use it. This judgment can be especially harmful to men in conservative or pious communities where there is a strong emphasis on traditional gender roles and conservative values.
Furthermore, some may wonder whether new male birth control innately requires new legal/choice regulations (e.g. legal, medical, and social regulations), and in doing so could this undermine a woman’s right to choose even more? For instance, if men now have the option of contraception, will more burden/blame be placed on a woman for pregnancy? Although the circumstances giving rise to pregnancy do not make it more or less possible or permissible for a woman to secure abortion services, morally required birth control may lead to increased societal condemnation of women who have unintended pregnancies.
It is also necessary to consider the religious implications of new methods of male contraception. For many religious communities, birth control and family planning are moral and ethical issues that are influenced by spiritual teachings, traditions, and beliefs. In some religious communities, birth control is considered morally unacceptable because it is believed to go against the divine plan for procreation. For example, the Catholic Church teaches that artificial birth control is a sin and that natural family planning methods are the only acceptable form of contraception. Similarly, in some Islamic communities, birth control is considered a violation of the natural order and is forbidden by religious law. Thus, we must acknowledge how this new research will play out with other faith norms, and the dangerous precedent that can be set with necessitated use of male birth control.
Essentially, the value of fairness is integral to highlighting the lack of equality within contraceptive applications for men and women. This is due to the fact that female birth control is more expensive, is associated with more severe side effects, and requires more invasive procedures and hospital visits than male birth control. Moreover, as it stands, a man’s reproductive autonomy is significantly inhibited by the lack of male contraception because they are not able to regulate their reproduction in the same way that women are. Thus, men have a right as well as a duty to retain increased autonomy over when and whether they would like to have children.
Ethics – Responsibility
Women have always faced risks from pregnancy: risks to their bodies and health, careers, livelihoods, and education. Now, some state governments want to remove access to the tools women use to mitigate these risks. In some places, contraception access, like abortion access, is at risk. In this new reality, it is more important than ever for men to have – and use – safe and effective male birth control options. An important aspect to note concerning this discussion is that men’s perspective toward contraception is changing. One study from the year 2000 revealed that more than 70 percent of men think men should take more responsibility for contraception. Furthermore, between 44 and 83 percent of men stated that they would use hormonal methods of birth control. Another study disclosed that nearly 75% of women and about 72% of men believe both sexual partners should be equally responsible for birth control. However, this willingness differs based on additional factors, such as age and lifestyle. One study from 2012 on a group of college men found that 35% of them had a high willingness to pursue hormonal male birth control. These men were more likely to utilize contraception if they believed other men would too, if their image of a man who would use contraception was positive, and if they rated themselves as less concerned about avoiding effeminate behavior. As a result of all of these factors, partners have a shared responsibility to commit to contraception.
More than 70 percent of men think men should take more responsibility for contraception.Oxford Academic Journal
Men maintain a lack of reproductive autonomy with the current options for contraception, and therefore taking a pill will help shift the dynamics of a relationship to a truly equal partnership. The current contraception arrangement of women maintaining the larger responsibility is problematic because its injustices are often hidden by the dominant rhetoric of women’s empowerment and equality. This leads to the message that women should be grateful for the control they have over their bodies by being the majority user of contraception, which silences any complaints or suggestions for improvements. However, it is still critical to acknowledge that the current and growing sexual revolution has genuinely furthered women’s liberation, its danger lies solely when the discourse serves as an ideological camouflage for unfair standards that harm women.
The responsibility of men to use contraception is furthered by the fact that it is a man’s ejaculation that causes all pregnancies. A woman’s egg is fertile only two days a month, whereas men are fertile 365 days a year. However, men barely face major physiological consequences for causing an unintended pregnancy in comparison to the extreme physical and mental burden that would arise if they had to carry out a nine-month unwanted pregnancy. Thus, men have both an incentive as well as an intrinsic duty derived from the values of fairness and responsibility and the framework of deontology, to take birth control into their own hands in order to promote equality.
The widespread public health issue of unintended pregnancies could be abated by new methods of male birth control. As it stands, half of all pregnancies are unintended, hence a male contraceptive could reduce the need for abortions as well as child poverty. Unintended pregnancy is a major health problem that can have a significant impact on individuals, families, and communities. Despite the availability of effective birth control methods, unintended pregnancy remains a widespread problem, particularly in low- and middle-income areas. Shared responsibility for birth control could help address this issue by increasing the overall use of birth control and reducing unintended pregnancies. When both partners are using birth control, the risk of unintended pregnancy is reduced, as is the need for abortion.
Despite the availability of effective birth control methods, unintended pregnancy remains a widespread problem, particularly in low- and middle-income areas. Shared responsibility for birth control could help address this issue by increasing the overall use of birth control and reducing unintended pregnancies. When both partners are using birth control, the risk of unintended pregnancy is reduced, as is the need for abortion.
Some who disagree may raise the matter of the lack of trust in relation to male contraceptive use. This is a result of examples such as studies that show that habitual use of condoms is a challenge for most men. In fact, a study from 2016 showed that men were less likely to wear a condom if they judged a potential partner to be attractive or in good health. This is often a product of the widespread belief that condoms diminish pleasure, a subjective credence. Therefore, until men can suffer the full range of consequences of an unintended pregnancy, it seems unclear at best that women could or should rely on men to assume primary responsibility for using birth control to prevent pregnancy.
Compliance is another counterargument to male contraceptive use, as men may not be reliable in taking a birth control pill, which could in turn lead to higher rates of unintended pregnancies if women depend on their partners to bear the responsibility of contraception. The National Library of Medicine found that women generally engage in more health prevention and promotion activities whereas men often appear to consider health promotion and prevention as unacceptable masculine behavior. This propels the widespread belief that appropriately demonstrating masculinity cannot be overstated, and for some men, this means avoiding healthcare and not being compliant with medical regimes. However, can/should we infer anything about the likelihood of contraceptive medication compliance from compliance with healthcare and other treatment regimens due to the larger significance and consequences that contraception carries?
Moreover, some may wonder whether corporations even have a responsibility to develop male birth control if female birth control is so widely available. Would this place additional economic burdens on companies when there are more pressing issues for the society and economy to address, and thus should the development of male contraception be a priority in the field of scientific innovation? Furthermore, some may argue that men do not have a responsibility to take birth control if these methods are relatively new without much research done on their effectiveness/long-term impacts. Many traditional notions of masculinity and virility are related to traits such as strength, assertiveness, and social dominance, and there are many men who associate with these characteristics and hold them to a high standard and respect. Given this, if new methods of male birth control have the potential to affect a man’s body, particularly in terms of their sperm and sex drive, do they maintain an obligation to utilize it?
On the whole, due to the risks women face from pregnancy, the risk of legislatively-reduced access to female contraception, and the current economic and social barriers to use, it is increasingly important that men have access to, and use safe and effective male birth control options. Men carry this inherent responsibility due to that fact that their emission of sperm induces all pregnancies, as well as the prevalent public health issue of unintended pregnancies. Consequently, when both partners are sharing the burden of birth control, the risk of pregnancy along with abortion is lessened.
On June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overturning the constitutional right to abortion. This judgment was made on the basis that “procuring an abortion is not a fundamental constitutional right because such a right has no basis in the Constitution’s text or in our Nation’s history.” After Roe v Wade was overturned, the interest in vasectomies has grown significantly. The Cleveland Clinic Center for Male Fertility saw a 2½-fold increase in vasectomy inquiries in July 2022 compared to July 2021, according to center director Sarah Vij, MD.
Sarah Vij, MD
“The Cleveland Clinic Center for Male Fertility saw a 2½-fold increase in vasectomy inquiries in July 2022 compared to July 2021”
The Dobbs decision did not change the law on contraception access, although some states are considering furthering regulation to emergency contraception and birth control. Thus, potential implications could include restrictions on accessibility to contraceptives which could delay the development of male contraceptives, as if there are restrictions on accessibility to contraceptives, this could lead to a reduction in the demand for contraception in general. This, in turn, could lead to a decline in funding and resources for the research and advancement of new male contraceptives. If new male contraceptives are made available, it may provide motivation for men to use birth control in fear of unintended pregnancy, along with already changing perspectives towards contraception within men. Overall, society must empower both women and men to employ birth control for the purpose of not only preventing conception but also decreasing the need for abortions.
Ethics – Beneficence
Beneficence is understood as a framework that outlines the act of doing good to others and invokes a wide array of moral obligation. With respect to male contraception, doing good means denoting men’s responsibility to utilize birth control to reduce the risk of pregnancy and share the burden of contraception between partners. This is aligned with the concept of “shared risk,” which refers to how men have a duty to utilize new birth control methods because these forms of contraception would expose men to a relatively small risk of potential side effects (based on currently available data) while mitigating a much larger risk in the partner of an unplanned pregnancy. With female and male contraception options, each partner (however specifically men) would have an increased opportunity to control being a parent, and a reason to assume some risks to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
With female and male contraception options, each partner (however specifically men) would have an increased opportunity to control being a parent, and a reason to assume some risks to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
If male contraception were to become a new norm, deeply ingrained and stereotypical gender roles could be undone by equalizing the playing field for both women and men, furthering society as a more inclusive sphere of equality. The development of effective and widely available male contraception could create a more equal balance of responsibility between men and women when it comes to preventing pregnancy, as well as have far-reaching consequences for the ways in which we think about gender roles and gender equality. If it were to be normalized in our society, many of the stereotypes and stigma surrounding birth control, such as that it is only for young, promiscuous, individuals (specifically women), could be dismantled so that all individuals can have greater control over their own reproductive health as well as the power to make informed decisions about their lives and futures.
In this paper, I have discussed the ethical implications along with the moral duty for men to utilize new methods of male contraception. According to the values of fairness, equality, responsibility, and the bioethical principle of beneficence, I believe that men have a moral duty to utilize new methods of male contraception in order to reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies. Fairness and equality demand that men share the burden of contraception with women, rather than leaving it solely up to their female partners to disproportionately bear the responsibility. As a result of this, men can be held accountable for the consequences of their sexual behavior just as women are. Responsibility entails recognizing one’s intrinsic obligation to mitigate unplanned pregnancy, which is especially important in today’s world where contraception and abortion access is imperiled. Beneficence, which invokes ‘doing good,’ describes how male birth control will benefit all stakeholders involved by mitigating significant harm by men assuming a small level of risk. The moral duty of which I outline is owed to a man’s partner, himself, any future children that may arise, and society as a whole. Ultimately, encouraging the normalization of shared responsibility for birth control will lead to a more equitable and just society, in which individuals are not shamed or reproached due to their contraceptive choices. Furthermore, men’s use of contraception will empower individuals to take control of their reproductive health, allowing them to make informed decisions regarding if and when they would like to have children. Shared contraceptive responsibility will help to break down traditional gender stereotypes while promoting fair and healthy relationships. In the long term, reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies can reduce demand for scarce healthcare resources and procedures such as abortions, which have become a polarized and divisive issue in today’s world.
As a society, it is our responsibility to take immediate action to shift the dominant ideology around contraception to achieve a more equitable contraceptive arrangement. If we fail to do so, we risk amplifying gender-based limitations and systematic barriers.
As a society, it is our responsibility to take immediate action to shift the dominant ideology around contraception to achieve a more equitable contraceptive arrangement. If we fail to do so, we risk amplifying gender-based limitations and systematic barriers. Furthermore, with legal rights to abortion as well as contraception at stake, it is imperative for men to take a more active role in preventing conception. By embracing male contraception, we can create a more nuanced and conscientious approach to family planning, which will ultimately lead to greater gender parity and improved freedom for all.