Hormones, choices and reproductive autonomy: how Dutch women navigate in a world of contraception
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While contraception is available to many women nowadays, I argue that it is not a solved issue yet. I have conducted semi-structured interviews with five women to gain a deeper understanding of their lived experiences with contraception and the pill in particular. I deconstruct the notion of ‘choice’ that surrounds the usage of the pill, by showing how women’s contraceptive decision making is structured by wider sociopolitical factors. Women’s options and ability to choose are based on a trajectory that society laid out for them, namely to use hormonal contraceptives. Rejecting this path would mean having significantly less options and to break with gendered norms and expectations of contraception. I will link the illusion of choice to reproductive autonomy, and question to what extent women nowadays feel like they have agency when it comes to their reproductive choices. My analysis shows that with regard to reproductive autonomy, being well-protected against a pregnancy is the top priority. Consequently, in a landscape without sufficient effective male contraceptives or non-hormonal contraceptives, women feel the need to let go of their ethical concerns and use hormonal contraception like the pill. Furthermore, I discuss the importance and possibilities of making contraception a shared responsibility, for which trust seems to be a key aspect.