Thursday, September 14, 2006


Chile, which has a truly appalling teenage pregnancy problem, has finally addressed the issue -- they have made birth control free for every girl over 14. EC will be publically available for all women, free of charge, and without interference.

It's about time.

You know, I even agree with the statements from Catholic church and local religious conservatives who say that we need to address the problem at it's core: teach these young people that having sex is not something they should be doing at the age of 14 (which nearly 14% do), and counseling them to wait - but I also 100% agree that dealing with the reality of the problem right now -- a runaway number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions -- is the correct first step.

The Catholic church -- which wields a tremendous amount of power in Chile -- has already come out to criticize the law for the same reasons that religious groups criticize similiar ideas here: it will "encourage" young people to have sex. I've never understood that particular argument, since it simply defies logic and the reality of people's behaviors. No, teaching them to protect themselves doesn't urge them to have sex, and it certainly doesn't give them the idea that you think it's OK. Making contraception available doesn't even affect the numbers of people having sex -- it simply means that those who do, will do so safely. I, like many of my peers, had more detailed information about sex, contraception, conception, and STDs than I probably wanted to know; my parents were very upfront about all of it. They were also up front about the responsbilities involved, and that they strongly discouraged me to start experimenting until I was much older (for my father, I think the correct age would have been 30!). I got the message.

Knowledge is power, not encouragement.

The President of Chile, Bachelet (who is a pediatrician) said this:
"The obligation of the state is to provide alternatives, and the obligation of families, of each one of us, is to communicate with our children, explain things to them, and to teach them."
Yes. This. Exactly. Now I can only wait until we manage to be as enlightened here.

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