Family Planning

It’s pretty alarming when an administration continues to misconstrue the sexual education debate to be about lazy or agnostic teens and 20 somethings who cannot wait until marriage to have sex.  Further insulting, though, is the president’s recent appointment of anti-contraception advocate Eric Keroak to lead nearly $300 million in Family Planning grants.  Eric Keroak has recently served at a chain of Crisis Pregnancy Centers deceptively named to trick women into thinking they are receiving holistic obstetric care when they are truly being cycled through a series of meetings in order to ensure one thing: that a pregnancy results in birth regardless of the circumstances.  Law & Order: SVU had a great episode in November 2005 highlighting the plights of women caught in the cycle of these centers.  These centers advocate against birth control and support a type of abstinence only program that have been shown to be ineffective.  The sad thing about these abstinence only programs, the same ones touted by the Bush administration, is that their poor educational quality weakens the fact that abstinence is the most effective way to avoid pregnancy and STDs.  Sex cannot be respected on its own when is consistently touted as existing properly only as a benefit limited to men and women who decide to get married.  Abstinence will only regain its power when people are educated to utilize it as as a choice, available to the virgin and non-virgin alike, and not as a condition.

Beyond abstinence, comprehensive sexual education remains important.  Why?  Let’s take it to food for a moment.  When I am trying to avoid doughnuts, and I go to the store only thinking ‘no doughnuts,’ I will still find a way to walk out with some kind of sweet.  One national church, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), has addressed this need for planning–although not about doughnuts, but about comprehensive sexual education.  It created the program Our Whole Lives (OWL) to bolster self respect, responsibility, justice, health, honesty, and respect for diversity.  The UUA based their program on guidelines developed by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).  Some highlights of SIECUS’ values regarding sexual education are:

  • Everyone deserves dignity and innately has self-worth
  • Being sexual is good and normal
  • Sexuality goes beyond the physical–it is emotional and spiritual, too
  • Each person’s sexuality appears different from the next person’s
  • People need to respect sex and the choices and consequences regarding sex

So, what to do about the appointment of Keroak that The New York times recently called a farce?    Connect with a place that spends most of its time and money providing and advocating for sexual health education and services such as your local Planned Parenthood (such as the one in Milwaukee, WI) or the national Planned Parenthood office and offer your volunteer hours and support.  Also, encourage your church to research the implementation of an OWL-like program to ensure that the up and coming generations have comprehensive information to do some real family planning.

– Todd Wellman (c) 2006

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