Better to be safe rather than sorry

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, May 06, 2005

This letter is in response to letter entitled "Agency sells sex," published April 24.

The writer claimed that Planned Parenthood was dispensing birth control to teenagers without asking about their marital status, general state of health, and most importantly whether their parents knew. He asked if this is what the parents of Juneau want for their children.

To which I reply, "If the parents aren't going to educate them, then yes."

The fact is, most parents have a hard time talking to their children about sex. Even those who do, often imbue the subject with a sense of shame. As a result, many children will decide that they need to explore sex on their own; the taboo around it is the very thing that makes it so fascinating.

My parents taught me early on about the mechanics of sex and birth control. Their message was clear: They weren't thrilled about the idea of my being sexually active while I was still in high school, but if I was, they would much rather that I was safe. I made my own choice to stay abstinent until I was at least out of high school.

Not all of my peers were so lucky. I wish I could count the number of friends I knew who, out of sheer ignorance and misinformation, ended up pregnant or fathering a child, first in Fairbanks, then in Barrow, and now here in Juneau. Thanks to the lack of abortion facilities in most of Alaska and the stigma attached to abortion, these people are struggling to survive and support a child on low-wage jobs.

Don't get me wrong; I'm no great fan of abortion. However, unless we do right by our children by educating them about both the wonders and dangers of sex and how to keep themselves safe, we will end up with more young people faced with the difficult decision to either get an abortion or give up most of their future plans.

The best way to reduce unplanned pregnancies (and, by extension, abortions) is to educate our children. If this means giving them access to birth control without asking their parents, I'd have to say that's the lesser of two evils. If the parents are unable/unwilling to educate their children, it's better that teens learn from an accurate source than from the (mis)information their friends give them.

Ambrosia Rose


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