Monday, June 09, 2008

Teen pregnancy and sex ed in the news

There were 3 wonderful letters to the editor today in the Globe responding to a disturbing article last week about a rise in teen pregnancy in Gloucester, a town on the North Shore of Boston. I didn't realize what was disturbing about the article until I read today's letters. Here's part of the article:
Kim Daly sensed something was amiss in this seaside community during the first month of school last fall after several girls came to the school health clinic she runs at Gloucester High School asking for pregnancy tests.

Each time, Daly stood in her lab with her eyes closed, little white wand in hand waiting for the results to appear. When they were negative, she breathed a sigh of relief. When they were positive, she braced herself for the unpredictable emotional response that comes with telling a teenager she's going to be a mother. Some girls broke down in tears. Others broke into smiles. One exclaimed, "Sweet!"

Um...wait a minute...tell her she's going to be a mother? What gives? I worked in family planning for years, and the cardinal rule is you tell a woman that she is pregnant and that she has 3 options: maintaining the pregnancy and parenting, maintaining the pregnancy and adoption, or abortion. She's going to be a mother? What kind of health center is this?

The writer of the first letter to the editor puts it even more eloquently:

I WAS struck, in reading "Gloucester stymied by rise in teen pregnancy" (Page A1, June 6) by the lack of consideration of the options open to these teenagers. In particular, it was appalling to describe a healthcare provider's delivering a positive pregnancy test as "telling a teenager she's going to be a mother." As with any woman, a positive pregnancy test does not necessarily mean she is going to be a mother. It means she is pregnant, and has options including abortion and adoption. Even providers who are not allowed or are unable to counsel on these sensitive topics must, at a minimum, refer a patient to other resources.

In addition, and especially in a geographic area where healthcare access is limited, any pregnancy test should be a chance for education. A negative test is an opportunity. Obviously the abstinence approach, if it's being employed, has already failed.

And here are the other 2 letters to the editor: here, and here.

Also in last week's paper, an interesting article about how rates of teen pregnancy are rising nationally. Could it be fallout due to all that abstinence-only education?

If we aren't careful, teen pregnancy will rise once again, as it did in the '80s, not to mention STDs. All this conservatism, all this talk of abstinence pledges... to what end?

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