Rings with benefits such as increased cognitive function. “We are trying to develop contraceptive methods that will bring additional benefits,” she says, echoing the goal of contraceptive researchers everywhere.

A ring that contains an anti-retroviral agent to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Already in use in Latin America is a ring that can be used by women who are breastfeeding. This would help women space out their births, Sitruk-Ware says. This product is being tested in India and Africa as well.

As all of these move out of their, well, infancy, our increasingly crowded planet hangs in the balance.


Conception conflict

By the time you read this, voters in Mississippi will have voted on Initiative 26, which would define a person as “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.” Hey, if corporations can be considered “legal persons,” are we surprised that anti-abortion activists are trying to pin the same label to a collection of cells?

While presidential candidate Mitt Romney (who quasi-courted Planned Parenthood in Massachusetts when he ran for governor in that state) has endorsed the so-called personhood amendment, the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority Foundation, and Planned Parenthood teamed up in outcry. Because certain birth-control and emergency contraception methods do affect eggs that have been fertilized by sperm (but have not yet implanted themselves in the uterus), reproductive-rights advocates say Initiative 26 would outlaw certain types of birth control.

“By giving constitutional rights to a fertilized egg, [this initiative] could ban emergency contraception, birth control pills, and IUDs, as well as all abortions, even in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the woman or girl,” the presidents of NOW and the FMF said in a joint release.

Pro-lifers in Mississippi, who admit that the law is aimed at eliminating abortion, claim that pro-choicers are using the birth-control argument as a “scare tactic.”

With health-insurance companies required to start paying for female birth control in 2013, as per the Obama administration’s expanded preventative care package for women (religious institutions offering insurance may opt out if they choose), we predict more of these contraception-limiting measures in the future. Impossible to forecast, however, is how the anti-contraception camp would deal with the question of male birth control.

Deirdre Fulton can be reached at dfulton@phx.com.

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