Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Teens and the FDA

Today is my birthday. It's also the anniversary of my 31st year working in the sexual and reproductive health field. You can do the math.

I love my life and feel very grateful for my family, my friends, and my ministry. But, it's hard not to be a little discomforted by the number today.

But, I'm also thinking about age this morning as I
read that the Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that it is ready to reconsider its long delayed action on over-the-counter emergency contraception. Long overdue, it's hard not to be cynical that this was announced the day before hearings on a new FDA commissioner.

But, what most struck me is that the FDA told the manufacturer that the drug can't be available over the counter to young women 18 and younger. Coming on the heels of last week's Senate vote on transporting teens for abortions , it's another blow to the ability of sexually active young women to protect themselves. It's a bow to conservative groups who incorrectly continue to assert that availability of contraception causes young women to have sex. That's a little like saying that because I have an umbrella in my car, I'm going to drive some place where it's raining. I can honestly say that I've never met a teenager who is having sex in order to use a contraceptive.

I'm glad I'm not a teenager today -- or even in need of contraception anymore -- but I am a parent, an aunt, a friend, and a minister to many young people. I know that teenagers need help in learning how to make healthy, ethical, moral decisons about their sexuality, but I also know that many young people aged 18 and younger are sexually active. According to recent studies, 6 in 10 teenagers have had sexual intercourse by senior year. It is immoral to me to withold contraception from young people because it makes us uncomfortable that they are having sex.

That's why I am so glad that the
Religious Institute has recently received funding from the Moriah Foundation to develop a new "Open Letter to Religious Leaders on Adolescent Sexuality." It will join our series of theological frameworks on abortion, sexuality education and marriage equality. Stay tuned.

3 comments:

eric said...

Happy Birthday! Many, many more!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!!!

Wendy said...

happy birthday ... I've been reading your blog for a few weeks, don't remember how I found it exactly. I'm also a pastor and a mother of a 16 year old heading off to college. I am excited to hear that the FDA might make the Plan B pill available over the counter ... but what about a 16 year old living away from her parents? My biggest concer for her is what if she's raped? I want her to have access to whatever she needs as soon as possible.

No worry ... we talk openly about these things and she knows exactly where I stand. I had been a volunteer with Planned Parenthood when I was in seminary years ago. But most recently it hit me as a member of my extended family lamented over having another baby in the family to an unwed couple, there is no reason why every child born in this country shouldn't be wanted and planned. It's our responsibility to the babies if not the young mom's and dad's.

OK .. thanks for giving me an opportunity to rant a bit. ;)