Opinion

World Contraception Day: Think global, act local | Johnson

World Contraception Day is an event organized by the European Society for Contraception and Reproductive Health.

Each year on Sept. 26, the organization focuses on educating young people about contraception, in an effort to support a vision of a world where every pregnancy is wanted.

In reality, 85 percent of teen pregnancies worldwide are unplanned, and millions are infected with sexually transmissible infections because they don’t know how to protect themselves.

This year, in our country, women’s rights have been in the forefront of political campaigns, and access to contraception coverage has become a controversial topic.

Whatever your religious and political views are, I think we can all agree that a world where every pregnancy is wanted is a good thing.

How to meet that goal is where we tend to disagree.  Earlier this month, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro stated in a speech: “The American Dream is not a sprint, or a marathon, but a relay.”

Being the mom of two swimmers, I know that relays are different from individual events. There are four people in a relay, and much calculation goes into which order the swimmers (or runners) will go. People cheer for the team, and for each individual swimmer.

You see, cheering for the slowest swimmer is just as important as cheering for the fastest one because they are all working together toward one goal.

Oh, for a world that treated sexuality education like this. Or even just contraception. One relay leg could be access to information about all the different kinds of contraception; another relay leg could be family values about contraception; still another leg could be education about how to decide and know if and when you are ready for contraception. Finally, one relay leg could be access to contraceptive methods at no or low cost and in all areas of our state and country.

Abstinence is a method, and should be discussed, but given that 2,400 teen girls in our country get pregnant every day, and 10,000 teens in America catch a sexually transmissible infection every day, abstinence-only-until-marriage education does not deserve an exclusive on this topic.

Sister Simone Campbell, a Roman Catholic nun and executive director of the Catholic Social Justice Organization NETWORK, recently stated: “We care for the 100 percent.”

Last time I checked, that meant everybody.

So, I ask you, are we caring for the 100 percent in Federal Way? Are we all doing everything we can to provide comprehensive sexuality education, including information about abstinence and information about contraception to our youth? Are we helping them learn about healthy relationships, discerning their values, refusal skills, and media literacy in relation to sexuality?

Do we have enough access to contraception in our city for those whose incomes are low and who have no health insurance?

With our free and reduced lunch rate over 50 percent in Federal Way Public Schools, it is likely many families do not have health insurance, and cannot afford out-of-pocket contraceptive costs.

Budget cuts in our state have affected services like family planning subsidies, maternal health care, and routine screening for cancer. Providing no-cost contraception is much cheaper than providing maternal health and infant care for unintended pregnancies in our state.

This year, as you contemplate World Contraception Day, think globally and act locally. Support and encourage programs that provide important and appropriate contraceptive information and services for all our Federal Way residents.

 

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