Sex is not our problem

Now there are things that I assume most Americans still agree on. Most think young people should delay sexual activity until they are mentally and emotionally capable of reasonably consenting and comprehending the consequences. Most want fewer children born to parents unwilling to provide for those children, or incapable of doing so, emotionally or financially. Most want fewer unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. And, most want fewer women to have to face the often wrenching decisions about what to do about such pregnancies.

There are some rather simple ways to move in this direction if we can agree to be less puritanical and more practical. We could, for example, begin teaching young people to value themselves in a way that contextualizes the initiation of sexual activity as a thing fully within their control and not so easily manipulated by peer and societal pressures. Abstinence can be honorable, but it won’t be for everyone. Everyone can be affirmed, though, in the fact that they must love themselves enough emotionally to be in control of whom they allow to love them physically, and when.

Furthermore, we must provide thorough and unimpeded sex education — in the home and at school — about how to engage in sex safely and responsibly. And, we must provide a full range of reproductive services — prophylactic and contraceptive as well as post-pregnancy.