Essay about A Right to Choose

Submitted By wowhotawhat
Words: 1323
Pages: 6

Taylor-Rae Shepard
Mrs. Langille
English 10B
19 April 2013

A Right to Choose

Discussion about sexual education in America is often shoved aside due to a number of factors, whether it be religious beliefs, political reasons, or the just plain awkwardness of the sex talk. The dreaded “birds-and-the-bees” talk is certainly not a favorite of guardians around the nation, no matter how explicitly necessary it is. No parent would want their teenage daughter to become pregnant in high school; yet this very consequence affects millions of teenagers annually in the US, increasing with every passing year. Teen pregnancy is a problem and needs to be addressed with much more than a wave of the hand and the classic phrase "Just say no to sex before marriage". Abstinence-only education is an ineffective method to curb teen pregnancy and abortion, yet this method of health education rules the majority of high schools in the nation. All types of clinical contraception are safe and effective and should be taught in all schools. Because teenagers will not simply abstain from sexual activity, the current set-up of sexual education in the US is no longer effective. Sexual education, due to the alarmingly rising rates of teen pregnancies, rapes, and abortions, needs to be reformed to accommodate the health risks of sexuality in teens without taking all freedoms away from teenagers in the United States. It is true that abstinence-only education is the most effective form of birth control. However, abstinence-only education does not have any effect on teen pregnancy and abortion rates in the US. Studies show that more than half of teens become sexually active before marriage, regardless of any "virginity pledges" they may have taken before becoming sexually active. More than half of teens who take a premarital abstinence pledge retract their promises within five years of their initial pledge. Those teens are also just as likely to have premarital sexual relations as those who don't make an abstinence pledge (Stein). This shows that teaching teens and young adults to use abstinence as their primary birth control is dangerous. Teenage birth rates in states where abstinence-only education is more common than sex education including contraception are higher than the national average. These states include the top three highest teenage birth rates in the nation: New Mexico, Texas, and Mississippi. This statistic is the opposite in states where contraception-based sex education is more common than abstinence-only education, their teenage birth rates being lower than the national average (Stobbe). When compared to abstinence-only education in high schools, contraceptive sex education is more effective in significantly reducing teenage birth and abortion rates. Teaching abstinence and limiting access to contraception condones teens to make mistakes without any safe fallback. In the Philippine town of Manila, a sixteen-year-old girl named Michelle Custodio said that if it weren't for the free oral contraceptives she had received from a local women's shelter, she would have gotten pregnant again. After suffering through two failed pregnancies in the past two years, this was not obviously an option for her ("Philippines' Reproductive Health Law Here--Now What?"). Promising oneself into abstinence until marriage did not work for Michelle, and it does not seem to affect the amount of sexual activity any teens participate in, no matter the country or age (Stein). Not only is enlarging sexual education more effective in reducing teen birth rates, but making these contraceptives more available in high schools also has this effect. Emergency contraception, like levonorgestrel, can prevent pregnancy by preventing either ovary from releasing an egg or keeping sperm from fertilizing an egg (Khan). The Morning-After pill is also about 90% effective at preventing pregnancy when used at least 72 hours after unprotected sex and at the