The question of whether or not to give birth control devices to teens is a volatile issue. Those on both sides of the question are prone to be emotional over their view. The argument can be made on either side but the fact is that teenagers engage in sexual acts that produce unwanted pregnancies at a staggering rate. Abortion is not the answer, and opens up an even more passionate debate. There are those who oppose the giving of birth control devices to teens but are willing to listen to a debate on the issues; there are those who are close-minded as well. Because of the risk and the rise in unwanted pregnancy among teens, it is incumbent on the adult segment to arm the teen with knowledge and devices that will prevent unwanted pregnancy, for, like it or not, teens engage in sex.
The current administration’s program would be laughable if it were not so dangerous. It is proving to be every bit as unproductive as Reagan’s Just Say No anti-drug education program. Once again government policy is at the whim of a minority who believe that God speaks to them. The administration has been quoted as saying that federal funds will go to abstinence-only education programs. Such programs are aimed at teens, instructing them not to have intercourse and not to kiss and not to hold hands. This seems more like a script from a bad sit-com than government policy. Many parents believe that such behavior is developmentally appropriate for their teens. The government is not giving teens birth control devices or birth control information and this is not only short sighted, it may well prove dangerous in the long run. For the government to suggest that teens will refrain from sex because the government refuses to give them any instruction or devices is almost child-like in its absurdity. Cynthia Dailard, the author of Legislating Against Arousal: The Growing Divide Between Federal Policy and Teenage Sexual Behavior has said that, “(Federal policy)… expects unmarried people to abstain from activities that go well beyond “traditional” intercourse, its policy is now completely out of touch with long-standing patterns of teen sexual behavior.”
Parents are often of two minds, wanting their child protected from unwanted pregnancy, but not wishing to give tacit approval to their child engaging in promiscuity. Ultimately the teenager, being a normal human being, is going to do as he or she wishes and that will include sex on a regular basis. The insidious attempts by the government to metaphorically impose some sort of self-imposed chastity on the nation’s teens carries over into the state governments and has proven successful in the states of Utah and Texas. In these two states they have managed to pass legislature requiring family clinics to contact parents when teens inquire about birth control. Dr. Phil, of television fame, often asks the rhetorical question, “And how is that working out for you?” Someone should ask Bush. The Associate Press reported, “Out-of-wedlock births in the United States have climbed to an all-time high, accounting for nearly four in 10 babies born last year.” Out-of-wedlock births have been rising since the late 1990s. The U.S. teen birth rate is still the highest among industrialized countries. 37 % of U.S. births are out of wedlock. The government policy is not working.
This country has always accepted the idea that parents should shoulder responsibility for their children’s behavior and also that parents should have final say in those matters pertaining to their child. It is argued that parents should police their children in regard to what movies they see and what Internet sites they may access. It is true that a doctor may not operate on a minor child without parental consent. So the logical extrapolation seems to be that no one has the right to educate children in regard to sexuality or deliver birth control devices to them. A doctor would not remove a teen’s appendix without prior parental approval, nor should he remove an unwanted fetus, it is argued. But there is a point where such policy becomes ostrich-like in its attempt to bury its proverbial head in the sand and pretend that teens are not sexual animals. If a teen is acting responsibly enough to seek out advice from strangers as to how to protect themselves from an unwanted pregnancy they are certainly old enough to be told the truth. They need to be told the difference between facts and myths, and instructed in proven methods of pregnancy prevention. Not only are the unprotected teens at risk of an unwanted pregnancy, they are also at risk of contracting STDs.
The views of biblical morality versus the secular is used as battle cry by the hardcore Christian Right Wingers who believe that they have the right to dictate all policies pertaining to public mores. They are as mistaken in this assumption as they are in every other narrow, bigoted and fanatic declaration they make. They have moved closer toward their goal of making this nation a theocracy. Robert Graves has his character, the Roman Emperor Claudius I, say that religious fanaticism is the most dangerous form of insanity. While the citizens of this country are guaranteed freedom of religion, they are also guaranteed freedom from religion and the zealots who think otherwise need to be reminded by a mandate of the people. Teens are going to do what human teens have always done when confronted with sexual choices and they cannot be expected to behave with the wisdom of senior citizens when their hormones are raging. Government agencies should lead, follow or just get out of the way of instruction and the delivery of birth control devices to teenagers.
Stobbe, M., A.P. Medical Writer 10-21-06 37 % of U.S. Births Out of Wedlock
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