I admit I come down left of center when it comes to reproductive rights – Mr. UM would call me a screaming liberal on the topic. But the decision by a Maine middle school to provide contraceptive pills to girls in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades, is craziness. The school district cites a rash of teen pregnancies (17 in the past four years) as the reason for its decision. It is appalling that four young girls a year in one Maine school district are pregnant. It is appalling that more are probably sexually active. Quite frankly, that even one american 11-year old girl, is having sex is appalling. That our answer is for middle schools to provide the Pill without parental notification is both appalling and absurd. It is wrong for so many reasons – questions of responsibility, parental control and the purpose of schools are all legitimate.
But in my mind the biggest reason it is wrong comes down to this. We, as a society, are supposed to protect and care for our children and providing contraception to 11-year old girls does neither. It is dangerous for 11 year old girls to have sex – it is dangerous for them physically, emotionally and, yes, spiritually. It our responsibility to prevent it from happening, especially if her parents are unwilling or unable. I don't believe providing contraception, or education or vaccinations encourages sex - but neither does it stop it.
The question is how do we stop it? How do we teach young people to respect themselves and each other? How do we teach them to wait? How do we let them know it is good to be young? That innocence is something to be valued? That they are precious?
Providing quality schools and safe streets is a start, but why are there halter tops, low rise jeans and daisy dukes available in girl’s size 6? Why is it okay to hear the words “bitch” and “ho” on television, in music and on the street? Why is there a sexual assault every 2.5 minutes in America? Why do 54% of all rapes of women happen to girls under age 18 with 22% of those to girls under age 12? Why is it that, in 2007, as a society, we still don’t treat women and children with decency and respect?
We are broken and I don’t think the Pill is going to fix it.