Thursday, 14 April 2011
Step 1: Proper sex education. How many of you had a PROPER sexual education course? I know I did. I still have nightmares about the slideshow. If you had a proper course, you know what I'm talking about. The extreme closeups on ravaged genitalia.
"What is that? Is that a hippo with gout?"
"Oh. I'm never touching a woman. Ever."
Those slideshows always reminded me of what could happen if I had unprotected sex. Even ten years later those images are burned to the backs of my retinas. And for the record, a proper sex education still teaches that abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancy and STDs. But it should not be the only thing taught.
Studies show that in the parts of America teaching abstinence only education the average age of first sexual encounter was later and number of sexual partners was lower, but the STD rate stayed the same and pregnancy actually went up, because kids used oral or anal sex as an alternative, and when they had traditional sex it was much more likely to be unprotected. Expecting teenagers to just "say no to sex" is incredibly naive. This is when hormones are flowing and every single facet of society tells you to have sex. It's fun and popular. So just saying "abstain" and washing your hands of it is not a solution.
Teaching kids about condoms, the pill, and other options are what works. Kids that don't get sex education don't know that you can get STDs from oral sex, or that you can get pregnant even if you do "pull out." So obviously their education is incomplete.
Part of this sex education will be teaching that pregnancies are a purely biological function, not a horrible stigma upon whatever woman has it. My hypothesis is that part of the reason for getting an abortion is the fear of the shame of being an unwed teenage mother.
Step 2: Access to contraceptives. All this teaching doesn't do any good if they can't get the things they need for safe sex. This seems fairly self-explanatory. Expecting kids not to have sex because they have no access to condoms is like expecting to reduce the number of fires by removing fire extinguishers.
Step 3: Financial support for women who DO become pregnant. One of the determining factors in getting an abortion is "can I afford this baby?" If they get help with things like medical attention, maternity clothes, leave of absence from their job, a legitimate way to get affordable care for the child while the mother works her job. They just might not get an abortion! Far too often the "pro-life" crowd seems to cease caring about the life once it is outside the womb.
Now of course, there will be some concern over people abusing this, and saying "I'm pregnant, give me money." There's a really simple way around that. Give them funding in a way that can only be used towards legitimate enterprises. I obviously don't know the most fool-proof method yet, but some thoughts I've had include:
This should be something both sides of the issue can get behind. It doesn't impede on a woman's right to choose, which will make pro-choice people happy, and it decreases the amount of abortions, which makes pro-lifers happy.
- Something like food stamps, but used only towards things like maternity clothes, cribs, diapers, etc.
- "Pregnancy counselors" or something of the sort that you must go through to buy all these things. You must check in with them every so often for medical checkups and help planning and purchasing.
- Medical checkups would be required for proof of pregnancy.
No plan will ever make either side truly, 100% happy, but I truly think this is about as good as it can get. It pries too much into the social life of the prospective mother for liberals, and it's too socially-conscious for conservatives. But progress often requires compromise, so figure out what's more important to you.
Liberals need to realize that government assistance requires some invasion to operate properly, and conservatives need to realize that "just say no" may be fine on a bumper sticker, but effective laws need more thought and money backing them.What do you think of this three step program for reducing the number of abortions? Do you think it would be effective? Is there anything you would add?
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