Tuesday, 24 May 2011


A few months back I was involved in a fascinating discussion with some fundamentalist American Christians. The subject was abortion. It was a lively exchange. One person on the forum was not only advocating a total ban, but was also anti sex education for teenagers. He was convinced that education should be the sole responsibility of parents, and equally persuaded that abstinence was the only right option and that destruction of a fetus warranted a jail sentence. He was not alone.
Now for some facts. There is a direct correlation between good sex education and low abortion figures. Also, the teaching of abstinence only statistically defers full intercourse for 18 months, during which time teens show an increased tendency to indulge in oral and anal sex. Worse, when you outlaw abortion you  lose sight of the scale of the problem, because young girls will still get in trouble, only now you've driven them underground and exposed them to the back alley merchants that inevitably spring up. Furthermore, if we are unable to accurately monitor the scale of the problem how can we manage it?To my knowledge nobody rejoices at abortion, and we should never view it as a contraceptive. Therefore, it seems sensible to educate our teens on the physical and emotional issues regarding their sexuality and acknowledge their right to some input. Parents and educators must work in tandem, and in so doing create a platform from which teenagers can make informed decisions. This strategy has proven massively successful in countries that have adopted this liberal and open view. Educate, engage, listen. True, it won't eradicate abortion, but it does result in a massive reduction. Google Netherlands abortion statistics if you want to see an example of a system that works. Contrast this with a country such as El Salvador, where abortion is illegal and education paltry. If a female presents at a clinic with a perforated uterus she can look forward to being shackled to a bed and have her body treated as a crime scene. A jail term might well be the outcome. Now I know I haven't discussed the rights of the fetus, and I want to be sensitive to this matter. I'm not blind to the potentiality question, which is why I'm apt to think that the better informed our teenagers are, the fewer terminations we'll see. Just be warned; there is no ideal solution. This isn't a perfect world.

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