Today I was reading an article about a PBS documentary called “The Education of Shelby Knox.” The show, to air tonight, documents the transformation of Miss Knox, Bible-Believing, chastity pledge taking girl, into a remarkably wise young woman who — while still a devout Christian — believes in tolerance and comprehensive reproductive education.*
Comprehensive reproductive education, as contrasted with “abstinence only” reproductive education, teaches about contraception and disease prevention, along with basic biological facts about human reproduction. Abstinence only programs are the only kind for which a school can get Federal funding, meaning our tax dollars pay for a semester of “just say no.” Furthermore, in Texas and some other states, abstinence only is the only thing schools are allowed to teach. Miss Knox began to see the problems with abstinence only programs when she found that her school district had very high rates of teen pregnancy and STDs. Make no mistake, abstinence is a very effective form of disease and pregnancy prevention, but only if you do it — um, don’t do it — every time.
I support comprehensive reproductive education too, but for different reasons than many people. I find the philosophy of “they are going to do it anyway; they should at least have protection” to be unsatisfying. If that is our yardstick, then we should take down speed limit signs, since most people exceed the speed limit anyway. Instead, I begin with one basic premise: adults have a right to medically accurate information about contraception. Notice that I am speaking of adults. If you cannot agree with me on this statement, then we truly have no middle ground to start on. Enjoy your theocratic utopia.
Now then. Adults have a right to this information. Indeed, in 1965 the Supreme Court ruled that adults have a right to more than information: they have a right to contraceptives. Is it realistic to expect every adult of childbearing age to make an appointment to consult their doctor about contraceptives? In this age of managed care, in a country where 15% of the population has no medical insurance? No.
Alright, so we have a right to medical information and we aren’t getting it from our doctors. Nor is it reasonable to expect every citizen to go to college and find out about it there. And since at least 99% of the population has genitals of one flavor or another, this is hardly a special interest topic that concerned parties should look up online.
Now, in this nation, a young person legally becomes an adult when they turn 18 for most purposes. Most high school graduates are 18, making them legally adults. Not only are most high school seniors adults with the moral and legal right to this information, but high school is the last realistic place where such information can be mass-distributed, with professionals on hand to answer questions as they arise.
Parallel to this topic, I would like to repeat that pharmacists who refuse to dispense prescription contraceptives and “morning after pills” for moral reasons are skating on thin ice indeed. Not only will these same people gladly fill prescriptions for male performance and lifestyle drugs, they forget that prescription contraceptives have other medical uses. Furthermore, just like when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that any judge who was against the death penalty should resign, any pharmacist who is against dispensing legal, medically indicated prescriptions should resign. To do less is to follow their morals only when they inconvenience others.
Gosh, it feels good to use a conservative argument against conservatives.
* In order to not be flagged as a naughty-naughty site by various filters, I am specifically not using “the S word.” I don’t have to spell it out, do I?