So the other day, I had a crisis of faith. Not necessarily the easiest feat for a Humanist to pull off, but I did my best. I was sitting in the pharmacy waiting for the pharmacist to make up a couple of Mr. Juniper’s prescriptions, and wondering whether or not to get the morning after pill.
Let’s just say that the night before, the world had moved. Indeed, to quote my hero, Terry Pratchett: “…the Discworld moved. And it didn’t even bother to stop to cancel the bread and newspapers.” And let’s just say that as the world moved, we forgot that there were condoms approximately two feet away from us. The crisis of faith originates from somewhere around that point, or rather, a little higher up than the condoms, over a little way and to, yes, the idea that we “should have known better.” Oh, bite me.
It annoys me endlessly to see the need for justification when it comes to emergency contraception. Either contraception was used or it wasn’t. I don’t think one case is necessarily better than the other. Congrats to the former, I suppose? Certainly I’ve been in both camps. The latter being rather more recent.
When it comes to the moment of forgetting to use contraception, well, it happens. There is often an article to be found that ponders why people didn’t use condoms or another in-the-moment form of contraception if they weren’t on something more long term. I’ll admit, I’ve been prone to making such suggestions. And I can see, absolutely, why it’s an important point to make. But at the same time, in moments such as presented by The Night In Question, I didn’t give a damn about condoms. My husband was In The Mood and I couldn’t get into bed quick enough. And as such, some thoughts are going to kick others out of the bed quicker than you can say, “My search party is creeping into your no man’s land.“
The following morning, Mr. Juniper and I had spoken about what to do. He admitted that he was hoping I’d get the morning after pill, though it was up to me. Not unexpectedly, I wasn’t the only one wondering how we had managed to forget condoms, considering what we were doing. Forgetting about contraception doesn’t render either of us irresponsible, though. At least, I don’t think so. (And don’t we always like to be nice to ourselves?) I think it renders us human.
While I was waiting for Mr. Juniper’s prescription and wondering if it was going to start raining before I got home, I started to think about the morning after pill. In a proper I-can’t-pretend-to-have-thought-about-it-for-much-longer way. I had made a decision to think about it before then, but I hadn’t really put my mind to it. And I had to decide in those few minutes. I’d be going home afterwards and by the time I might have otherwise made up my mind, I’d be pushing the limits of what the emergency contraception could do for me. “I’m having a crisis of faith,” I thought. This thought was immediately followed by, “You’re a Humanist, you can’t have a crisis of faith.” That thought was then followed by, well, it was followed by a few good fucks.
There was no financial barrier to accessing the morning after pill (prescriptions are free for everyone in Scotland). And even then, in the good ol’ days, it was only around £25 without a prescription. It was the “I’m meant to be a grown-up” argument threatening to take it outside with the “life” ideas. In the Amsterdam Declaration, it is stated that: Humanism is rational, and that, “Science gives us the means but human values must propose the ends.” In other words: make up your own fucking mind, but try to be responsible. At least, while sitting in the pharmacy, that was what was going through my mind.
Humanism celebrates reason (i.e. science) and so, I thought about what science could tell me. I figured science could agree with me that, by one definition or another, taking the morning after pill could be actively preventing a life. And the accompanying information for the morning after pill confirms that one of the ways in which it may work is to stop a fertilised egg from attaching. I figured that science could also agree that with there only having been fourteen hours since the happenings, there was a pretty concrete knowledge of how far the happenings could have kept happening.
Humanism is concerned with being rational, too, the Amsterdam Declaration states. The time spent on the possibilities was very small in the sphere of the five minutes I had to think. I tried to rationalise that my decision had to be about right now. So, what was the rational thing to do right now? That was what mattered. And as the minutes passed, along with my rather speedy assessment of what being a Humanist meant to me, the crisis of faith began to fade. The crisis was to tell myself I would think about whether or not to use emergency contraception, rather than to actually think about whether or not to use emergency contraception.
I’d used it before, I told myself. Certainly more than once, too. What was so different now? Well, sure, there was a lot that was different, but what was holding me back from making the same decision? The decision to take it would always be the same: it was either a yes or no answer and up until then it had always been yes. My suspicion lies in the region that is age. In the fact that Responsible Grown-Ups aren’t meant to forget contraception altogether. The tipping point was realising that the aforementioned forgetting of contraception had happened. I couldn’t change that fact, no matter how much I wanted to. So be it.
Then my time was up. The prescriptions were ready. The pharmacist handed them over, and after saying thank you, I said, “I need the morning after pill.” He smiled, and was lovely. And so, as I walked home, I was glad that the crisis had passed. I was comfortable with how I felt. I could relax a little, too, and let my thoughts wander to simply being grateful that this was a choice I could make.