Barbara Burton Professor Singh English 111 November 13, 2012 Should Teenagers Have Access to Birth Control? Teenagers are still growing and learning. Sometimes we forget that they are making choices that can affect their whole life. Yes, we are here to teach them and to guide them in making decisions that will help shape their future. Are they going to make mistakes? Are they going to regret some of their choices? Are they going to wish that they had listened to their parents at times that they didn’t? I’m pretty sure that we made mistakes as teenagers and decisions that we wish we could change.
I know that some made worse choices than others but, we have all made poor choices at one time or another even as adults. I definitely feel that birth control should be available to teens. The birth control pill was approved by the FDA in 1960. Since then there have been many more contraceptives approved over the years. None of these are 100% effective. Some are more effective than others. The only one that is 100% effective is abstinence. Pregnancy, STD’s, and HIV are some of the dangers that are involved with teens and sex.
Yes, abstinence is the best choice and the only one that is 100% effective from these dangers. I do think that teens should be taught that this is the best choice that they could make. Will all teens make this choice? Is there a way to convince all of them to make only this one choice? Is that even possible? I would say that it is not possible and definitely not probable. Birth control is a sensitive subject to many people. There are a lot of different views on this subject and many different beliefs as to whether birth control should be available to kids under 18 years of age or not.
I believe that in America we are free to make our own choices, and we should be able to make this choice. Teens are choosing to have sex. If they get pregnant or contract a disease they will have to face this decision and live with the consequences. This is a choice that we cannot control. Teenage pregnancy is an important issue. Is there a definite answer to this question? Do I think that I can convince everyone of a “one right answer only”? No, but I am going to give you some information that I believe may convince you that teens should have access to birth control.
The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the Western industrialized world. The pregnancy rate has declined over the past few decades. According to the Center for Disease Control in 1991 there were 61. 8 per 1,000 live births to girls aged 15-19. This declined in 2009 to 39. 1 per 1,000 and in 2010 it declined to 34. 3 per 1,000. They do not know exactly why there has been such a decline but, education and access to birth control is most likely what has been effective in this fight (“About Teen Pregnancy”).
Today teens have better sex education and easier access to birth control. Education teaches about different birth controls including abstinence. This is important in keeping our kids safe. Safety should be our top priority when it comes to our kids. How can we debate that? Do we even need to debate that? That is why this is such a hot topic! The CDC released the results of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey which shows that US High School students are still at a high risk for pregnancy, STD’s, and HIV. The results are: 47. % had sexual intercourse, 6% before age 13, 15% with 4 or more persons, 40% did not use a condom, 16% were not taught to use a condom, and 13% of teen pregnancies end in abortion (“About Teen Pregnancy”). What does this say about our education? We need to make sure that our kids are getting accurate facts and information. Parents need to talk to their kids when they are young and, they need to listen to their kids. Listening is an important tool. We do not have to agree with our kids or like their decisions but, we have to give them the information they need to deal with their choices.
Like it or not we cannot make these choices for them. We can definitely encourage abstinence but, ultimately it is their choice. It can be argued that education and birth control is available and there were still over 400,000 teen pregnancies in the US in 2011. This is a fact confirmed by the CDC (“About Teen Pregnancy”). It is also a fact that teen pregnancy continues to decline every year at an incredible rate. This could definitely be due to sex education and the availability of birth control without parental consent. Janice Shaw Crouse wrote about a D.
C. area study which shows that abstinence programs have been effective. This data showed that girls in this program were seven times less likely to engage in sexual activity than girls that were not in the abstinence program (“Birth Control” 115). This proves that abstinence can help in the fight against teen pregnancies and the spread of STD’s. I do agree with this being a great tool in this fight yet, it will not keep our kids safe. Some of our kids will still choose to be sexually active and we need to prepare them for this choice.
The Journal of American Medical Association reports that roughly 1 in 5 teenagers would have unsafe sex if they had to notify parents when getting birth control (“Birth Control” 144). Think back to when you were young and the choices that you made. I, through personal experience, have to agree with this statement. I was 17 when I became a patient at Family Planning. They encouraged me to talk to my parents but, I was not forced to. I was able to obtain birth control for free and education from a nurse that helped me to make a decision that I could respect and be proud to have made.
I made a responsible choice and I would make the same choice today as an adult. I know that if I would have needed parental consent I would not have made what I feel would have been a good choice. When it comes to religion I cannot say much except that everyone has freedom of religion, including teens. They have to make this lifelong choice. We, as parents, try to make these choices yet; they will ultimately be the ones to choose their religion as an adult. I feel that religion is sometimes used as a scapegoat in our everyday lives.
People do not always make their decisions based on religious beliefs. I think that religion is a great way to live your life but, we have to be prepared for mistakes or choices that do not follow our religious beliefs. Should schools give out birth control? “I think it’s a big mistake. ” said Szal, a Reverend to over 2100 families in a community where the school has chosen to give out birth control to teens. He claims “The problem is they’re saying go ahead and do what you want, just don’t make trouble for us by getting a disease or getting pregnant” (“Birth Control Battle in Revere” p 6).
According to the AP-Ipsos poll (Associated Press poll) 2/3 of Americans agree with giving teens access to birth control (“Why Schools Give Birth Control” par 5). The Alexandria, Virginia school system chose to allow health clinics in their schools as of 2010. One school reported that the year before there were 50 pregnancies, the 1st year of the clinic there were 35 pregnancies, and the 2nd year there were 20 pregnancies (“Why Schools Give Birth Control” par 3). Another important argument is the medical side effects of birth control are harmful.
The birth control pill has good and bad side effects. Birth control can be dangerous (“Birth Control Battle in Revere”). The pill has been proven to increase the chances of stroke, heart attack, blood clots and some cancers. These are slight risks not unlike many medications that are prescribed to our kids. There are also benefits to birth control. It has been proven to prevent ovarian cancer. It helps prevent pregnancy, STD’s, and other diseases which can be harmful (“About Teen Pregnancy”). We need to be open minded and honest in making our decisions about birth control and our teens.
Remember this is something that we have to accept not ignore. This is a real issue that effects our teens every day. As Jocelyn Elders said, who served as the U. S. Surgeon General for President Clinton, “Our silence is becoming deadly. Just saying no is not enough” (“Birth Control” 113). We need to protect our kids. I do believe that we need to teach abstinence. We also need to accept that our kids may choose different than we want them to. We chose different than we were expected to. Kids will make adult decisions and they need to be able to protect themselves.
They need to have parents that are open and honest and willing to listen. We can do our best to guide our kids to choose abstinence with the understanding that we can only influence not force their decisions. This is not permission to have sex. It’s facing a choice responsibly. So, we need to prepare them to protect themselves from the dangers of their decisions. They can protect themselves and have a good future without an unwanted pregnancy or disease that they will have to live with for the rest of their life.