Don't Drop the Ball on New Year's Eve
By Suzanne Reisman on December 31, 2009
BlogHer Original Post
I have mixed feelings about the National Institute for Reproductive Health's New Year's Eve birth control campaign, Don't Drop the Ball. It's a humorous website that reminds women that if something goes wrong with their primary method of birth control, women have a 120 hour window to prevent pregnancy by using emergency contraceptives (EC). The site encourages women to send a funny text message about different EC options. There's even a video about a text message mishap to
In terms of provocative public service messages, I think that Don't Drop the Ball is a lot more effective and far less offensive than Denmark's anti-domestic violence campaign, Hit the Bitch. Don't Drop the Ball has a really cute short video in which grandmotherly types from many backgrounds read a text message about sex. The video concludes, If you can make a mistake like that on New Years Eve, what else can go wrong?" (Of course, if I texted my grandmother on accident on NYE, she'd never see it because the lovely woman doesn't even use cordless phones, but that's another story.)
Mary Alice Carr, Vice-President for Communications of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, explains that:
We created this campaign because - while in a perfect world men and women would use birth control consistently and correctly every time they have sex -- the reality is that sometimes accidents happen. And women need to know that EC is a safe and effective back up method of birth control.
I'm glad that they are getting the word out. An unplanned pregnancy is definitely not a good way to start a new year. However, the option to send your friends "a funny morning-after message." skeeves me out a little. I'm not sure that I find emergency contraception funny under any circumstances. At the same time, if the campaign effectively gets the word out and helps prevent unplanned pregnancy, that is great.
Most other bloggers seem comfortable with the campaign. Repro Health Hub encourages people to watch the Grandma video and send their friends a text message. Kjerstin Johnson at Bitch blog links to the site and says, "So if you don't want a New Year's baby of your own, don't drop the ball! Plan ahead and tell your friends to too!" Holly at Menstrual Poetry thinks the initiative is great overall, but also pointed out:
This initiative had the chance to really raise awareness about violence against women and date rape during the holiday season; it happens a great deal in an atmosphere where people are generally having a great time and celebrating the start of a new year. This is the exact atmosphere where no one would notice someone slipping something into your drink if it is left unattended or would notice the absence of your presence if you left the party or a bar early; people are too wrapped up in celebrating and having a great time with their friends during a time like a New Year’s Eve party, which is why you really need to adopt a trust no one mindset if you’re planning on joining your friends out for the night.
I avoid these dangerous possibilities by not drinking alcohol at all. (OK, I don't ever drink alcohol, so it's not hard to abstain on New Year's Eve.) I also hang around with my friends and husband. For the last few years, I've also had overnight guests, which generally prevents any activities that could lead to pregnancy. Now that I realize how boring I am, I am extra glad that Don't Drop the Ball is reaching out and providing useful information to people with lives.
Anyway, I wish everyone a happy and a healthy new year! May the next year and new decade bring progress for gender equality.