Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sex Ed

I've been meeting a lot of new people lately (as a result of travelling out of town for three weddings this month) and quite a few of them have asked me what areas of law I'm interested in. When I tell them copyright and reproductive rights, several of them have them said, in a questioning tone, "Reproductive right?". I'm guessing that either having it chase copyright confuses, or that people simply aren't used to hearing the term itself. So them I explain-- and I explain that, while I'm a big fan of Planned Parenthood's mantra of "safe, legal, and rare", my main interest is working on the rare element.

I am definitely a big fan of easy, cheap abortion access. I think anyone who wants one, for any reason, should be able to get one. And I do mean any reason-- including even sex-selection of children.

But even though I'm in full support of abortions, I recognize that getting one sucks. Both kinds sound pretty awful-- induced miscarriage or surgical, either way your insides are getting twisty and the end result sounds like PMS times 100. Plus, in many states, it's hard to get an abortion-- either it's hard to physically get to a facility, it's hard to come up with the money, or it's there are laws regarding the age of the woman seeking one, or other conditions she has to jump through. And I know there are other women out there who hate, hate, hate the "rare" part of PP's motto, but by wanting to make abortion rare, I'm not suggesting we should attatch any judgement to women who get abortions, or that we should make it harder for them to do so-- I actually think we should make it a lot easier to get an abortion than it currently is.

But I still think that, instead of going through the understandably unpleasant experience of getting an abortion, it might be better if more women can prevent unwanted pregnancies from ever occuring in the first place. When I say I want to make abortions more rare, I want to give women more agency, not less. I want every child-- and every pregnancy-- to be a wanted one.

And so I want to work with a reproductive rights group on legislation to get better, comprehensive sex education in school, and better, less expensive contraceptives. I want girls to be educated about the pros-- and the cons-- of different forms of birth control, and I want health care to provide them with regular, affordable visits to a gynecologist-- preferably an awesome, non judging one like mine-- to discuss sex and their options. I don't want sex ed to consist of scare tactics and horrifying pictures of late-stage, untreated stds-- that's not going to convince limbic-system thinkers of anything. I'd rather they get presented with actual facts, statistics, and information-- including about STDs, but also about the way sex can mess with your chemicals to make you feel emotions that have no basis in reality, and also the fact that sex is normal, and can lead to other health benefits due to some of the same chemical reactions.

I do definitely think teens should be discouraged from having sex-- but I don't think they should be lied to, or misled through omission. And no matter what is said, at least some of them are going to have sex anyway. So condoms, birth control, diaphrams, shots-- all should be discussed in class, along with their rates of success. And then, the class should make sure to mention that certain kinds of lube will degrade certain kinds of condoms. And teach kids how to properly use a condom, and that antibiotics and grapefruit juice will cancel out certain types of birth control, and that yes, it does matter what time you take your pill. In addition, I think that they should go through basic cycle charting with girls, so that they can at least understand what's happening with their bodies when, and how the whole fertilization and pregnancy process actually works.

The last step, of course, is making sure kids have access to the birth control-- and again, my hippie self is all in favor of subsidizing it for them, through free condoms at school, and reduced price visits to a gynecologist and birth control.

If anyone is serious about reducing teen pregnancy-- or reducing abortion-- I'd hope they'd be on board for increased sex ed and contraceptive access. But somehow, I think that a lot of people who think I'm wrong in wanting safe and legal abortions to be easy to obtain will also think i'm wrong in wanting to give people the materials to avoid the pregnancy in the first place.

1 comment:

Becky said...

Amanda, this was an awesome post! I think it is a crime that there is no standard for comprehensive sex education is this country! As an aspiring professional in public health education, I agree with you completely! There is no point in wasting tons of money by preaching abstinence only and then burying your head in the sand. We are doing teens an injustice by not providing them with the education and information that they need! If only there were more soon-to-be lawyers like you! :)
-Becky D.