Norwegian Moms Have It Awesome Because They Have Modern Contraception

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The 2011 World Mothers Index ranked Norway as the best country for mothers for a slew a reasons: moms live to be 83 years old on average, every birth is assisted, and only one in 175 will loose a child before the age of five. But Norwegian mothers are also doing well in large part because of the country’s access and use of birth control; eighty-two percent of mothers in Norway use modern contraception. This statistic alone allows Norwegian mothers to remain in school and live longer.

Afghanistan, which conversely has little access to birth control,  is ranked at the bottom of the list. The average woman lives to be only 45 years old. One in every 11 women will die in childbirth and one of every five children in the country doesn’t live to be five years old.

The report read that:

The human despair and lost opportunities represented in these numbers demand mothers everywhere be given the basic tools they need to break the cycle of poverty and improve the quality of life for themselves, their children, and for generations to come.

Consider contraception then to be one of those “basic tools,” as women have more choices for their lives and for their families when given access to effective birth control.

Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University, noted that controlling fertility even among women who are already mothers is crucial to the betterment of women. Reducing the number of children born, women are able to better care for the children that they do have as well as pursue education and careers.  She observed how much white women have been able to achieve in the US since the introduction of the pill and the legalization of birth control:

Fewer white women marry, most marry much later than in previous generations, far more get divorced and the size of their families has decreased dramatically. Along with these changes, white women’s educational achievement has soared, their participation in the workforce has increased and their health outcomes, lifetime earnings and political participation have improved. Today, more than three in five American women work for pay outside the home.

Sadly, the US didn’t rank very high on the Index. We mostly got slammed by pesky things like maternity leave, childcare, and mother mortality. But the idea that women aren’t chained to the floor by their uteruses has proved to create many new opportunities both for women who choose to mother and those who do not. Access to modern contraception is often what determines quality of life for many women and their families.