Duggar friends: Birth control is bad, but hormones to get pregnant are OK

Feb 17, 2015 at 8:30 p.m. ET

What do vaccines, the Bates family and birth control all have in common?

Well, call me crazy, but I think a lot.

I recently came across this little criticism of the infamous Bates family, BFFs with the Duggars, pointing out how ridiculous it was that matriarch Kelly finds it acceptable to use artificial means to stay pregnant, but writes off all birth control to avoid pregnancy.

And interestingly enough, even though I personally don't want to use hormonal birth control, I have to say I kind of agree. Because how can you write off any benefits at all of birth control if you're also willing to use the same technology for your own benefit? It's a fine line, isn't it, to walk? We would never tell a woman that she shouldn't take advantage of technology to get pregnant because that's a "good" thing, but there are people who would say that any technology at all — even something like natural family planning — to prevent pregnancy is a "bad" thing.

I think it's important to recognize that even for people who eschew hormonal birth control for religious reasons, like the Bates family or for personal reasons, there is no such thing as an easy "one size fits all" solution to medical choices, but that medical research, advancements and treatments do affect us all.

In a way, the fact that the Bates family is OK with using hormones to stay pregnant but calling them evil otherwise reminds me of many of the arguments against vaccinations. Obviously, most of us aren't dummies. We know that vaccinations are not 100 percent safe for every single person in the world and that medical injuries from vaccines are a very real thing. But the technology and medical advances from vaccines are also the very same things that could save a child's life, so how do we have one without the other? How can someone renounce birth control, vaccines or antibiotics without also being OK with refusing any and all medical treatment?

Medicine is a science, but it's not a perfect science and I'm a little tired of trying to figure out the right answers along the way because as a nurse, I've seen the medical world in action. Medical professionals, scientists and even patients themselves are learning as they go and it's impossible for us to expect totally risk-free medicine advancement at all times. We need to be honest with what is realistic, what risks we are willing to take, both for us personally and for the rest of the world. Because like it or not, our personal choices do have consequences for other people, despite our modern, "no judgement" mantra of parenting.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's unfair of us to expect to reap only the medical benefits when they are convenient to us, whether they be in vaccines or birth control or hormones to help us stay pregnant.

The science behind the decisions that guide our health and the personal decisions we make along the way are so deeply intertwined that we might forget that you can't always have progress without risks — I think it may just serve us all well to remember that "all natural" is not always ideal.

More on birth control

What's the right birth control option for me?
Pass on the pill: Alternatives to birth control pills
The history of birth control