Opinion

Contraception: Plan A is even better than Plan B | Johnson

Recent publicity about Plan B and other generic emergency contraception products has been controversial. - Courtesy image
Recent publicity about Plan B and other generic emergency contraception products has been controversial.
— image credit: Courtesy image

Recent publicity about Plan B and other generic emergency contraception products has been controversial.

This whole controversy is politically motivated, not scientifically based, and mired in misinformation. In the midst of it all comes a voice of reason.

My friend and colleague, Amy Lang, runs a business called Birds + Bees + Kids.  We both present workshops for parents about how to — gulp — talk to your kids about sex.

Amy Lang said: “Bothered by Plan B? How about Plan A — that would be you getting over yourself and talking to your kids about sex. All of it. Seriously… quit freaking out about your child being able to get this very safe drug that will prevent you from becoming a grandparent when you aren't ready and start talking to your kids about sex. Plan A. It's what'll make the difference.”

We can argue like the federal government, the Reagan-appointed judge, and the FDA, about the safety and availability of Plan B.

We can argue about how pregnancy is determined.

We can argue about if this medication should be available and at what age young women should be able to access it, and whether it should require a prescription or be available over the counter.

But actually, I’m not interested in arguing with you.

What’s really important is Plan A.

Talk to your kids about sex.

By early elementary school, if they aren’t asking, tell them how babies are made. Tell them how babies get into a woman’s body and how babies get out. Use proper terms, like uterus, vagina, penis, sperm, and egg, so that when they are approaching middle school, they don’t still think a baby grows in a stomach.

This isn’t wrecking their innocence. This is helping them understand the miracle of life.

Before they enter middle school, tell them about different types of sex that people have: oral, anal, and vaginal. Let them know this so they don’t think they aren’t having sex if they have oral or anal sex, or that they are safe if they do so. Sexually transmitted infections can be spread whether the sexual activity is oral, anal, vaginal, or even manual.

They should also know there are ways for people to prevent STD/STI transmission and prevent pregnancy.  Talk about abstinence and make sure they know what that means. Let them know they can choose abstinence at any point in their life, whether they are in a relationship or not, married or not, have engaged in certain activities before or not. Sexual activity should always be their choice, and if it’s not, it’s illegal. That’s called sexual assault or rape.

Tell them condoms or other latex barrier methods are the next best thing to abstinence for preventing disease transmission. Let them know there are many forms of birth control, and that sexually active people need to use both a condom and hormonal method of birth control if they want to prevent pregnancy and disease.

Again, this is not destroying their innocence. This is giving them potentially life-saving information from a trusted source (you) to help them when they are facing tough and tempting decision points, or to help them advise friends who don’t have trusted adults like you who will tell them the real scoop.

Talk with them — more than once. In fact, a few hundred shorter conversations are much better than one big one.

Parents, I urge you to put your time, energy, and arguments into Plan A. The more we do that, the less any of us will need to worry about Plan B.

 

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