Recently, my children’s schools notified me via email that Planned Parenthood would be at their schools to give age-appropriate presentations on reproductive health to their students. The email requested permission allowing my children to attend the presentations. The consent form for my 5th grader contained the following:
(Our) students have participated in Social Emotional Learning Curriculum throughout the year and are ready to move into making positive self-care choices. This curriculum will be built upon every year, as they are developmentally ready. In appropriate groups, they will participate in a health class supported by the Planned Parenthood Education Program. Educators from PP will lead our discussions and all sessions will be attended by the school’s Administration.
Students will be instructed in the follow health education topics:
-General Hygiene/Self Car
-Age Appropriate Hormonal Changes/Puberty
-Taking Responsibility for one’s health
The class will be held (next) Tuesday. Students will be separated by gender and grade level.
So I responded as follows to my 5th grader’s school:
I do not consent.
I think Health Education is a very good thing. I just think it might be a good idea to consider looking for someone else to provide it, as Planned Parenthood’s values do not match up with mine and I suspect, given the controversial nature of the organization vis-a-vis the recent media exposure they have received from the Center for Medical Progress, there may be others who feel similarly, whether they speak up about it or not. Of course, this is Santa Fe, so maybe not.
My negative opinion of PP is centered on my deep and profound respect for women and life and my intense desire for men to know they will be held accountable for their actions. The premise of PP’s existence is acceptance of the idea that women will never be respected and men will never be held accountable and that these facts are immutable, thus they, PP, are there to assist with the consequences. Unfortunately, this simply leads to an even greater surrender to, and acceptance of, this idea throughout our national culture. As a father who intensely loves his daughter, I want the very best for her as she grows up. (When she grows up) I believe any man who would disrespect her by expecting her to engage in sex with him without a lifetime commitment to her through marriage is not worthy of one microsecond of her attention. And if one ever does, he better find a new State to live in.
The following is excerpted from email from my 8th grade son’s school:
Dear 7th and 8th grade parents,
This coming week, we will be conducting age-appropriate workshops about reproductive health for our 7th and 8th graders during science class periods and study halls. These are offered through our partnership with Planned Parenthood of Santa Fe and are offered at all of the public schools in Santa Fe, as well as at the vast majority of our community’s private schools. The topics to be covered are listed below:
7th grade: Healthy Relationships and Exploring Personal Values Around Sexuality
8th grade: STIs (Transmission & Risk Reduction), Pregnancy & Contraception
I responded as follows to my 8th grade son’s school:
I don’t have a problem with my son attending this presentation, but I wish you would find another provider in the future. PP is, in my opinion, an extremely controversial organization that clearly does not respect human life before birth at any stage of development.
My dilemma is that while I would prefer that he get this information either from another provider and from me, I don’t want him to be the only kid (in school) having to be accommodated while all the other kids are attending the presentation. Also, I am not one to over protect him from the world in which we live.
So, if there are going to be a number of other kids whose parents are not giving their permission to attend, then my preference would be that he not attend. If I am the only parent, or one of only two or three parents withholding permission, then I would prefer that he go ahead and attend.
Either way, I appreciate the request for permission and I will certainly follow up with him on the subject. We have already discussed this subject to some extent and I continue to discuss it with him as he is maturing.
As a side note, this information was not given to children in public schools until the 10th grade when I was in school and frankly, while I know times are different and children are sexually active at even younger ages now than they were then, I still don’t think it is really necessary before high school. Furthermore, the implied message coming from us adults is that we somehow condone and expect children to become sexually active before they are mature enough to handle it responsibly. If you know my son, then I’m sure you know he is not the kid who is likely to be needing this information just yet. I would like to think that he is not the only kid in the 8th grade who doesn’t yet need it! And if you know something about him that I don’t, then please, by all means, let me know!
Before you judge me as some kind of pro-life activist who stands on street corners with anti-abortion signs yelling at traffic driving by, let me make it clear that I am not. Not even close! Furthermore, I only converted from pro-choice to pro-life about five years ago, when I came to the conclusion that the pro-choice position is 99.9 percent about convenience and that there is absolutely no way anyone can say with absolute authority at what point in prenatal development a fertilized egg becomes a human being with a soul.
Of course, atheists will say they never do, but for those of us who are not atheists and believe in the concept of eternal life and the sanctity thereof, this is an important matter. There are many, many justifications for the selection of different points of development as being that point at which a developing human in the womb should be considered a human being that should not be aborted, and many pages or even books could be written on the subject, and probably have. Many of these justifications attempt to be based on science. Never-the-less, the one thing they all have in common is that they are all based on convenient criteria. The only one that is not, is the one that says life begins at conception. Plenty of people disagree with this, but disagreement does not equal proof.
So what do I think we should be teaching our children and expecting of them? Simple. Sexual relationships are sacred and as such, should be reserved for marriage. In a word, abstinence.
I do not buy into the idea that young people are incapable of controlling their sex drive and that it must be assumed that they will be sexually active before they are old enough to be married and when they are old enough to be married that then, suddenly, pre-marital sex is okay and expected. I think this kind of idea has come about because we live in a culture that has a media that has become saturated with sex. You cannot turn on a television set anymore without seeing this. And people in our culture have become so accustomed to seeing it that we hardly even notice it (unless, of course, you are a teenager in the throes of raging hormones. Then you notice it!)
Of course if you grow up in an environment such that everywhere you look, from the checkout line at the grocery store to school, to television, to radio, and the internet, scantily-clad women, and in many cases, young girls, are on display or singing songs about sex and how awesome it is, then naturally a young person is going to be tempted at every turn to do just exactly what seems to be expected of them; to start having sex as soon as possible! Add peer pressure to that and parents who seem to think it is inevitable, and what kind of chance does a young person have?
Does this mean that a parent has to overprotect their children and shield them from what sex is all about and where babies come from as they grow up? Of course not. Only an idiot would think that. What it means is that parents need to reject the idea that saving one’s self for marriage is impossible. Young people need to be taught that the facts show, statistically speaking, that pre-marital sex leads to a much higher divorce rate and a much higher rate of single motherhood. It also leads to young men, and sometimes even mere boys, becoming buried in child-support debt before they are old enough to earn the kind of money it takes to raise a child.
Is pre-marital sex fun? Oh yeah. Who can deny that? But the fun ends when somebody gets pregnant. Then it literally becomes a life and death situation. Not fun. Particularly for the one who’s life is on the line.
And when a young person knows that there is a backup plan, however distasteful it might be, that can save them from the responsibility of having to raise a baby and child before they themselves are grown up, well, let’s just say that when things are hot and heavy in the back seat of the car, the heat of the moment is going to win out more often than not. Take away that safety net and suddenly, at least one of the pair has solid ground to back them up when they decide to say no, go no further.
And if we, as a society, as the adults and leaders of our communities, would stand up and tell our young boys and men, we will not tolerate such behavior and it will have severe consequences, then the number of children and young adults finding themselves about to engage in a very risky behavior will have been given more than enough justification for backing off and saving themselves for marriage.
Think about it. If, as a young man, you know that if you get your girlfriend pregnant, she will have to have the baby and you are going to be ostracized from your community and will be facing the fact of having to grow up really, really fast, guess what? You can look your peers squarely in the eye and tell them they are fools if they ignore such a fact.
You say, “well, what about in cases where the mother will die if the baby isn’t aborted?” Sure. In such a case, someone is going to die. Possibly both. So, of course, there can be exceptions. This kind of case is so rare as to be more of a philosophical question than a real circumstance that must be reckoned with. What about rape? Incest? What then, you say? Let me just ask you, if you had been the product of either of these situations, would you prefer that you had been aborted? These are complicated issues, no doubt, and I am oversimplifying them here for the sake of brevity, because the real point is, the baby is not at fault here, so why should the baby pay the price? In such cases, the perpetrator should pay the price. And let me just say that said price should be so gigantic, so terrible, that only the sickest of the mentally sick would ever contemplate taking the risk.
Former President Bill Clinton once said, “Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.” Imagine that coming from a man who won the Latin American “Man of the Year” Award when his extramarital affairs became front page news. None-the-less, that last part rings true. Unfortunately, as long as abortion is legal, and particularly in states where it is legal right up to the moment when a woman is going into labor, “rare” is not a practical possibility. And it never will be.
Finally, I want to close the loop on PP in our schools. By saturating our grade schools with their mere presence, they succeed in institutionalizing their brand. Kids grow up knowing what Planned Parenthood is and that they have been around forever. Planned Parenthood becomes an accepted fixture in our communities. It is brilliant strategy for an organization whose primary business would be utterly unnecessary if only we parents would instill in our children the self-discipline to reserve sex for marriage and arm them with a keen understanding of the severe consequences awaiting them for not doing so.