In her article, Shanahan argues that the contraceptive pill has failed to give women sexual independence. Instead, 'the Pill' has made them solely responsible for contraception, taking the onus off men. Once upon a time it was considered honourable for a male to accept the repercussions of failed contraception. Abortion or lone motherhood were the only real alternatives for lone pregnant women. In those days, married women were trapped into the tyranny of a rigidly planned family. Hence the rise in abortions."
Over the past 50 years, many women have been using the Pill to space children apart, but unfortunately in some cases its use has only succeeded in eliminating births altogether. This is evident in many parts of Europe. Shanahan is concerned that we live in a society that can no longer reproduce itself.
Issues of health, safety, unintended relationships, depression, a false sense of security and the lowering of a woman's libido are among some of her criticisms.
Shanahan writes: "The irony is obvious. So is the answer. Because the Pill works well as a contraceptive, it has a weird catch 22 effect on women's choices. Because the Pill is effective, women did not gain independence in 1960: just another type of slavery. Women graduated from the slavery of multiple child births to the slavery of obligation to be always sexually available, and never to suffer the newly declared disease of unintentional pregnancy."
Well-Being Australia chairman and Baptist minister, Mark Tronson, is no stranger to this discussion. In his 33 years of Christian ministry the 'Pill' has come up numerous times in both pre-marital discussions and in marriage ministry.
From this experience, his comments is that there is a lot more one might say the Pill and its effects on both men and women.
Mark Tronson is concerned that if the primary purpose of the Pill is to exonerate men from contraceptive responsibility, then they can manipulate women to ensure they are constantly sexually available.
It's not as simple as it first appears. First promiscuity. A young man 'cannot' seduce a lady by giving her this form of the Pill for protection because firstly the woman has to get the prescription for herself and take it for a whole month cycle before it has any effect. However, a young man can try the line, 'It's OK darling, I will use a condom' – and then he might or might not – the woman has no control. Is she chooses to be promiscuous, the argument is given that at least she knows if she has regularly been taking the Pill, she can make her own decision. There is more.
Generations of married / partnered / single women have managed their fertility without relying on men by using inserts, creams and spermicidal lotions. Some needed to be inserted by a doctor and some they could use themselves without the knowledge of a partner. Therefore there is a question mark against blaming the Pill for promiscuity or trapping men.
Women will do what they want to do for their own reasons. In the West, he says, where contraception is socially approved and where women have independence and their own money, particularly over the last 40 years, he would describe as the Age of Woman.
He says that additional research will show that wherever there is adequate contraception, the abortion rates are low and wherever contraception either doesn't work well, or is frowned on by the State (such as Japan and Italy), then abortion rates go up. If abortion is illegal then you get deaths from back-yard operators and women operating on themselves with such things as coat hangers.
It doesn't matter if it is the Pill or something else, including extended breastfeeding which the Aborigines used to space out their children – it has the same hormonal effect as the Pill when nutrition levels are low ... so nature (or God, whichever you like to believe) had an effective system of spacing children going in the beginning.
Part of the issue in the West, is that improved social systems mucked this up, when people began eating too much and weaning babies too early. The Pill is probably the most like the natural system that there is.
If the Pill has made women more sexually available asks M V Tronson, then is Angela Shanahan's statement correct: "The pill was the best invention men could have thought of for themselves"? Or, is there another response?
M V Tronson further says; "A prior pastoral issue in Christian thought is a young man and a young woman, individuals in their own right, both made in the image of God, with very different mind sets and physical functions, are given instruction on finding ways to respect these differences yet uphold their wonderful and beautiful union."