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With all of this trumpeting from the right about how birth control is wrong and evil and shouldn’t be included in health care, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on what our future would really be like, if we woke up tomorrow and birth control was no longer an option.

[Disclaimers:  I am not a witch, nor do I play one on TV.  I make no attempt to predict the future.  This list is far from exhaustive and I would love to hear other peoples’ thoughts.  No animals were harmed in the writing of this post.  All standard contest rules apply. ]

Right.  Let’s carry on below the fold.

Immediate impacts:
Well, other than shock, hysteria, riots, blowback, writing of Congressmen, protests and that other stuff.  (This assumes that this was from legislation and not some sort of dystopian end of the world thing, in which case we’d have other issues to deal with, if possible).

Less sex:  Sorry, that’s the way it is.  If I have to worry about having a child every time I have sex, I’m going to have much, much, much less of it, which leads to Point #2

Less enjoyable sex: See above statement about worrying.  These first two statements, I suspect, is what the religious conservatives are aiming for.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of other consequences, too, including:

More depressed and cranky people of both genders:  People who have experienced fulfilling and pleasurable sexual relationships with their partners are not going to suddenly be all happy and cheerful when they have to stop – or even slow down

More mental health prescriptions – a huge boon for big pharma.

Intermediate Impacts:
A rise in the birth rate, especially among poorer, less-educated people

A rise in back-alley abortions, which means more dead women (so much for the “culture of life”) and motherless children

Fewer happy marriages – less sex in marriage equals less happy partners.  More children means that more demands are being put on both partners, with less time and affection to be spared for their partners.  More children also means less discretionary income to be spend on things beyond the basics (are you paying attention, Corporate America?).  Whether or not it leads to more divorce remains to be seen, as it is hard enough for some couples to afford getting divorced with one or two children – much less seven or eight.  

Unless huge social pressures force men to stay put, or child support enforcement gets stronger, look to some of these men to desert their families, which could result in extreme poverty - especially with our shredded social safety net.

A rise in domestic abuse – sad to say, that’s an outcome of putting people in situations with no easy exits.  Violence.  Spousal rape will also probably skyrocket, with a small but grim subset of those turning into spousal murder cases, of women who simply can’t face having another child

A huge increase in child abuse:  Again, sad to say, but even wanted, adored kids can try their caregivers’ patience.  Forcing people to have five, eight, ten or twelve kids, when they only wanted one or two? (Or none?).  Won’t end well.

Less-developed children – even those rare, rare people who aren’t angry at resentful that they can’t control their own family size aren’t going to have time to check everyone’s math homework or hear about the bully down the street – or take interest in the neighbor’s kids who are neglected.  They’re going to be too busy putting food on the table and making sure their brood is fed, washed and put to bed to care much about anything else.  (So much for activists!)

This leads to resentful older children who don’t get to be kids, because they are helping to raise their younger siblings.

A black-market birth control and back-alley abortion and surgery system skyrockets– not only a huge loss to the medical industry from a revenue standpoint, but resulting in a huge risk for women (who become pregnant, anyway) and men (who can’t exactly sue practitioners for botched vasectomies.  Those who can afford it will travel outside the country to get birth control and/or surgical services.

To go along with this is a huge growth in law-enforcement to deal with all of these (totally avoidable) criminal issues as well as a special branch of the police to make sure birth control isn’t being used at all.

Longer-term impacts

Men will die younger of overwork, or exhaustion.

Women will die younger, of overwork, complications from child-bearing or exhaustion.  My guess is that, ultimately, women of a family will band together to take care of each other's children (which will lead to another Republican law against co-habitation or some other such nonsense).

Meanwhile, however, an entire generation – a HUGE generation – will come of age, substantially less educated, supported, and provided for than any in recent American history.  Many of them will be adult survivors of abuse.  What could possibly go wrong?

A “brain drain” of intelligent American women will occur, ones who are desperate to immigrate to more civilized countries where they can control their family size and are treated as people, not broodmares.

In addition, this will have a huge negative impact in American productivity, as a substantial part of the population is effectively yanked from the workforce.  A rise of mediocrity.

Small but critical minority of women elects not to marry at all

Ultimately, America becomes what used to be called a “third world country” – the extreme rich, who can control their own fertility and/or afford servants and nannies to raise their children – and everyone else.

So much for the City on the Hill - and these are just the social implications.  Imagine the books that won't be written, the music that won't be composed, the second careers that won't be had, the sermons that won't be preached, because BOTH partners are desperately struggling to keep their children alive and fed.

Not to mention the impact on politics - activism and public office and paying attention becomes a playground for the rich, the elderly and the childless.  Or the impact on world resources - but that's an entirely different diary.

We deserve better than this - and so does the world.

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