Let me pause to re-iterate this point:
Women are people who, when we have sex, sometimes create new life. This truth deeply colors relations between men and women — even men and women who never have children together, indeed, men and women who never have sex together. Men impregnate, women are not impregnable. A society which tries to deny these facts ends up doing great and lasting damage to its own children, and to both men and women.
I learned the key indicator of contraceptive success was not technological efficacy but motivation of the user. Only women highly motivated to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy stand a chance of avoiding pregnancy by any of the conceivable methods.
Marriage as a legal institution and as social ideal, I came to perceive, was regulating the sexual behavior of the unmarried as well. (e.g. avoiding unmarried pregnancy becomes especially challenging if it’s hard to figure out whether or not you are married, or if you and your partner have differing views on this important question, as often happens with cohabiting couples).
Moreover, I came to understand in an immediate, personal way that the happy talk of the cultural elites around the visible decline in marriage was not (as they liked to tell themselves) rooted in science; it amounted to a new sexual taboo — a polite way of avoiding big, obvious truths by covering them up with pretty-sounding words. A society in which marriage was weakened was not simply a society where women had more freedom. It was a society in which women were more vulnerable and millions of babies are less protected.
I learned this truth: Connecting sex, babies, love, money, and mothers and fathers is hard.
Hard at the individual level, and hard at the societal level. A society where marriage is the normal, usual, and generally reliable way to raise children is a great cultural achievement, not a law of nature. . .
I learned: When marriage is privatized, women and children get hurt.