CONTRACEPTION

When just saying No is not enough

 

katy@goodgov.net

Last January, I was invited to travel to Lima, Peru with Population Action International and Pathfinder International to observe international family planning and reproductive-health assistance in action.

It was an interesting time because just before we arrived, the Peruvian courts had declared unconstitutional a law that had made sex illegal for anyone under 18. This law meant that it was illegal for teenagers to have sex, and it also restricted their ability to purchase or receive information about condoms or contraceptives.

Peru has extremely high rates of teen pregnancy. The law, along with other restrictive policies, was driven by ideological opponents, in particular the Catholic Church, which is very powerful in Peru.

Unfortunately, the extreme nature of the Peruvian law is becoming more common in the United States. Opposition to contraception and reproductive rights are increasingly on display here at home.

Planned Parenthood has already seen its funding cut in Texas, and nearly 200,000 Texas women have lost or could lose access to family planning. In Ohio, a bill that was, thankfully, defeated proposed fining teachers $5,000 if they distributed contraceptives or taught “any gateway sexual activity or health message.”

In Florida, not only is sex education not required by law, but even if schools choose to provide it, they are forced to put a strong focus on abstinence.

Suddenly, Peru doesn’t seem so far away.

Whether in the United States or around the world, this kind of thinking is harmful.

In the United States , about half of all pregnancies are still unintended. And in developing countries, there are 222 million women who want to prevent pregnancy, but lack modern contraceptives. In 2012, 291,000 women in these countries died from pregnancy-related causes; 104,000 of those pregnancies were unintended.

Access to family planning can help change this. And investments in family planning — whether at home or abroad — just make sense. Women who have access to a full range of effective contraceptive methods and reproductive health services are better able to protect themselves against HIV, more likely to get further education, and better able to earn a good living to support themselves and their families.

In short, promoting women’s rights and empowerment goes a long way toward improving their lives, and contributing toward achieving critical global development goals.

In Peru, Texas, Ohio or Florida, while we might wish young people were not having sex, it makes a lot more sense to give anyone of child-bearing age protection along with knowledge. Telling teenagers not to do it is just not enough.

Katy Sorenson is former member of the Miami-Dade County Commission.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

  • CONGRESS

    Senators earn an ‘A’ for sexual assault bill

    Sen. Marco Rubio doesn’t have much time for Democrats. But he does have two daughters. And so it was that Wednesday morning, he found himself standing in solidarity with a bipartisan group of senators that included Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Claire McCaskill as they announced legislation to curb the scourge of sexual assault on U.S. campuses.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">HARASSMENT:</span> Members of the Ladies in White opposition movement, relatives of imprisoned dissidents who draw inspiration from their faith, were arrested during a peaceful march in Havana last month.

    HUMAN RIGHTS

    Support religious freedom in Cuba

    This year marks the 55th anniversary of Cuba’s current government and July 26 commemorated the 61st anniversary of the revolution which swept it into power. After coming to power, the Castro government broke its pro-democracy pledges and, despite recent improvements, maintains a problematic record on human rights, including religious freedom.

  •  
SOLOW

    MIGRANT CRISIS

    Easy fix to offer relief to immigration courts

    Much has been written about the strain placed on the immigration court system by the recent influx of minors from Central America. A little known fact about the Immigration Court system, unlike every court in the land, virtually no immigration court cases are resolved without a hearing.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category