Pregnancy

Throwing Away a Woman's Birth Control Isn't Funny. Period.

by Kristina Wright

Photograph by Instagram

So in case you missed it, former "The Vampire Diaries" actor Ian Somerhalder decided to throw away wife Nikki Reed’s birth control while they were vacationing in Barcelona and he made a video of her horrified response. Isn’t that just so romantic?

Wait...he did what?!

No, no, no. No, it’s not romantic when a man decides to sabotage a woman’s reproductive health choices in service to his own interests, and then film her shocked reaction. It’s a lot of things—manipulative, narcissistic, creepy—but it is not romantic.

When I decided I was ready to have a child with my husband, I discussed it with him and told him my feelings. He was delighted with the idea of having a baby, and we had several more conversations about it before I tossed out my birth control pills in a symbolic gesture of creating a new life.

I did it.

I made the choice because, repeat after me, it's my body.

My husband didn’t take it upon himself to decide the time was right for us to get pregnant. I promise you, had he made the decision it was time to throw away my birth control pills and done so without consulting me first, we wouldn’t have two kids right now. It was not his choice to make, and neither was it Somerhalder’s choice to make for his wife.

Making a joke out of deciding for your wife when to try to conceive a baby is not funny.

The controversy started when the couple, who welcomed their daughter Bodhi Soleil in July, appeared on a podcast called Dr. Berlin’s Informed Pregnancy. Somerhalder told the host, “We decided that we wanted to have children together, and it was just time.” So far, so good. It sounds as if they were both on board with the idea of starting a family.

But then things went off the rails when he said, “But unbeknownst to to poor Nikki, she didn’t realize that I was going to go in her purse and take out her birth control.”

Poor Nikki, indeed.

Somerhalder goes on to say he took the time to pop out each pill from the pack and flush them down the toilet. “It was a lot of work, especially after a little bit of sangria.”

Warning, warning! Now we have a problem. This is not consent. This is not OK. This is wrong. And it gets worse: Somerhalder made a 6-minute video of his wife “freaking out” over him throwing her birth control away.

Can you imagine your husband doing this? I can’t. Like, seriously, I cannot imagine my husband breaking my trust like that to take matters into his own hands. Much less while we’re on vacation in a foreign country, drinking sangria. Ugh.

Though the podcast has been taken down, the most telling part of the interview was this exchange:

“Now thinking about it, I guess I kind of decided,” Somerhalder said, with everyone chuckling.

“Surprising!” Reed responded.

Hmm...

On Friday, in response to a specific article she had read regarding the situation, Nikki Reed lashed out about "irresponsible journalism" on Twitter, posting a note that said, in part, "Don't talk about consent to me... how dare you try to cast a dark shadow over one of the happiest most memorable days of my life—you're not only disrespecting me but my baby."

The following day, Somerhalder posted a decidedly more restrained note from the couple in an attempt to clarify that the decision to have a child was mutual:

Still, Somerhalder's funny-not-funny little story struck a sour note with a lot of women—including me. Making a joke out of deciding for your wife when to try to conceive a baby is not funny. Making a video of her upset response is not funny. Going on a podcast to tell everyone about your bad behavior is not funny. There is nothing funny, loving or respectful about what Somerhalder did. And it shouldn't be presented as a romantic gesture by a loving husband.

Having a child is a huge decision and it should be a mutually agreed upon choice. The idea that someone could take away that choice—or, at the very least, decide the “right” time to start trying to conceive—is horrifying. It’s a huge breach of trust to take a woman’s reproductive choice out of her hands and literally flush it down the toilet. No one—not a boyfriend, a husband or even the sexiest vampire on television—has the right to decide what a woman does with her body.

Ever.

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