Thursday, September 25, 2008

Birth control titillates?

I'm kind of amazed by the kinds of articles I'm reading these days about teen pregnancy and teen pregnancy prevention. I could swear we settled all these things back in the '80s! I know, now I sound like an old geezer, but...jeez! Does every generation have to deal with this issue all by itself, without regard for all the work done in the past?

Here's an example. In today's Globe, there's an article about the Gloucester situation. You remember, a bunch of teens allegedly had a "pregnancy pact" there? Well, today's article states that "the mayor and school committee chairman are calling for contraception to be made available at Gloucester High School.

"I think the eyes are on Gloucester to see what we do, because a lot of communities are wrestling with it," said Mayor Carolyn Kirk, who along with other School Committee members will debate over the next two weeks whether to allow contraception at the school."

I just don't know what to say. Communities are STILL arguing about whether or not it makes sense to provide birth control to teens. To me the answer is obvious. Of course you want to provide birth control to teens! People feel that if it's available, it will somehow entice teens to use it. Trust me, our culture is so engulfed in sex that birth control is probably the least titillating sex-related thing they see. The bottom line is, if teens are interested in having sex, birth control should be available to them. If there isn't a local clinic that is accessible to teens, it makes sense to have a school clinic to fulfill that role.

But there is a larger issue, I feel. Parents want to control what their kids are doing. They want to prevent them from drinking, smoking, taking drugs, having sex. Unfortunately, those are exactly the things that teens want to be doing.

The article continues: On Tuesday, the School Committee released a set of options that it will use to help formulate its policy on contraception. The options include allowing contraception for any student without parental approval, permitting contraception for students with parental consent, or keeping the existing policy of no contraception in school.

I think it's a lot to ask for kids - who probably find this extremely embarrassing anyway - to have to "get permission" from their parents to get birth control. Who will do that?

So if this policy passes, with the parental approval clause, it will be essentially useless, in my opinion. Although I guess it's better than nothing.

Here's an interesting thought: how about if Sarah Palin, instead of holding her pregnant 17-year-old daughter up as some sort of pro-life example, talked about what actually happened. That her daughter came to her (right, I know, I'm dreaming) and said she was having sex, and that she wanted to use some sort of birth control. That they went to the doctor and got some birth control for her. That she used it, but somehow got pregnant anyway. And THEN she thought about her options, and after deliberation, decided to go ahead with the pregnancy. How about if we heard that kind of narrative? Wouldn't it produce a better national conversation than the one we are having now: pretending that teens don't have sex?

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