Let's Talk About Sex

In the midst of obsession over health care, a side show about sex, contraception, and whether it's OK to impregnate a 60-year-old woman.

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This week, there was a vigorous array of opinions not only about the policy of sex but about the practice of it too. Here's a few of the best pieces we saw.

Bring back the IUD, Kate Klonick argued at Slate. The IUD is a small device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent the implantation of an egg, and Klonick says it is the best, cheapest form of contraceptive around. The IUD was abandoned by American women in the 1970s because of overblown fears that it was unsafe. "But while the United States panicked, other countries never took IUDs off the market, and they became only more popular. In France, they are used by 23 percent of women on birth control, and in China, 45 percent of married women use an IUD." Klonick asked her countrywomen to imagine life without the pill:

"It has to be placed by a gynecologist, but once in, it's a practically foolproof method of birth control--99 percent effective--that can last up to 10 years. While daily or monthly forms of birth control can cost up to $60 a month, an IUD is a one-time cost between $300 and $500--though it's often covered by insurance. There's nothing to remember to take (unlike the pill), put in (unlike the NuvaRing), or take off (unlike the patch)."

"The push to pull out is still flawed," Tracy Quan explains at the Daily Beast. Quan is suspicious of new evidence that suggests coitus interruptus might actually be better than nothing, and she's worried it will be "henpecked by men who now claim that unprotected sex is medically safe." She says fear of getting pregnant might be useful if it pushes women — and men — to use a reliable form of birth control.

"Anxiety about contraception is both good and necessary. It's like the anxiety you feel about flying through the windshield of your car that makes you buckle up. Even if there are a few short rides during which you didn't buckle, do you really want road-safety experts telling you not to worry about it?

"Should old women have babies?" William Saletan asks. Sure, technology means it's possible to get pregnant much later in life, even at the ripe old age of say, 66. Is it ethical to impregnate women who may not live to raise their children to adulthood? Well, Saletan says it certainly isn't natural, but that hiccup "didn't stop us from using science to extend women's lives." So "why should it stop us from extending their fertility?"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.