Why I am passionate about responsible reproductive health policy
I am the mother of a 17-year-old daughter, and I consider myself to be reasonably politically aware. You’d think those two facts would lead to some general knowledge of sexual health legislative issues—particularly those that directly, and profoundly, affect the young women of our state.
But this type of legislative policy was not even on my radar. You see, from the time my daughter showed the slightest interest in learning about it, sexuality has been an open subject in our house. We have talked frankly, and often, about the physical, emotional and intellectual aspects of sex. I guess what was “legislated” seemed of little importance to me.
Then I began to learn about the issue. While researching a writing assignment, I read about thousands of girls in our state who navigate their teen years without a single conversation with their mother—or aunt or grandmother or any responsible female adult—about sex. These young women rely on community clinics, or our public school system, for any medically accurate information they get.
What happens when the curriculum is Abstinence-Only Until Marriage? That is to say, what happens when the state legislates that schools cannot include birth control or safe sex practices as a part of a sex education program?
We know the answer. Studies show teens in abstinence-only, or “promise” programs, have the very same rates of sexual activity as other young people. And they have sex with NO information about birth control or sexually transmitted disease prevention unless a parent, or some other knowledgeable adult, provides it.
No wonder the rate of teen pregnancy is on the rise in South Carolina. (Three in ten girls will become pregnant at least once before the age of 20.) No wonder nearly half of new STIs and STD cases in SC are among young people 15-24. No wonder one in five new HIV cases in our state strikes someone under the age of 25.
I pray that I have taught my teenager enough about the facts to make good, responsible decisions about her own sexual health. And I pray, too, for all those young girls across our state who don’t have a female role model to guide them. I believe each of them deserves a future filled with every option, and every opportunity, available to my daughter.
And so for them, I will be a part of the Tell Them Virtual March on March 23. I want my legislators to know that I, Cathy Monetti of Lexington, House District 87 and Senate District 18, stand with the thousands of South Carolinians who believe age-appropriate, reproductive health education, and access to birth control and counseling services, should be the right of every young woman in South Carolina. Count me in.
Sign up at http://tellthemsc.org/joinus.aspx