A Powerful Statement; Abstinence Not Mentioned

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January 30, 2001

Last week, the 27th annual March for Life was held in Washington, DC. The March for Life is an effort by pro-life grassroot Americans to assure that our laws protect the right to life for every human being. Marchers were given a message from the White House that the president would sign an executive order to prohibit U.S. taxpayer funding of organizations that perform abortions or lobby to change existing abortion laws in foreign countries. A powerful personal statement by President Bush was also read, which in part, said, “Two days ago, Americans gathered at the Washington Mall to celebrate our nation’s ideals. Today, you are gathered to remind our country that one of those ideals is the infinite value of every life. We share a great goal: to work toward a day when every child is welcomed in life and protected in law. We know this will not come easily or all at once. But the goal leads us onward: to build a culture of life, affirming that every person, at every stage and season of life, is created equal in God’s image.”

Abstinence Not Mentioned
The American Academy of Pediatrics has a new policy recommending that pediatricians encourage their sexually active patients, or those involved in substance abuse, to undergo HIV testing. The policy was published in the January issue of Pediatrics with the author’s note suggesting that adolescents learn: “The correct use of latex condoms, with emphasis on the importance of consistent use, the alternatives to sexual intercourse and oral sex, such as masturbation and petting and the dangers associated with substance abuse and sharing of drug injection equipment, including equipment used in administration of anabolic steroids.” Sadly, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation makes no mention of abstinence. Dr. David Hager, Women’s Care Center, Lexington, KY, says, “The recommendation from the AAP to encourage pediatricians to screen sexually active and/or substance using young people for HIV is admirable. As a matter of fact these persons should be screened for gonorrhea and chlamydia annually; the young women should have a PAP smear to help screen for HPV infection, and should be examined to determine if they have HSV as well. A major emphasis of this recommendation is on condom use and instruction in alternative sexual behaviors. While condoms do effectively decrease the transmission of HIV because it requires such a large innoculum to transmit infection, they do not effectively inhibit transmission of other viral STDs such as HPV and HSV, and are not as effective in preventing Chlamydia and gonorrhea as they are HIV. It is naive to think that one can recommend alternative sexual behaviors such as mutual masturbation, petting, and oral-genital contact and believe that young people will stop at that behavior and not progress to penile/vaginal intercourse. It is also naive to believe that STDs cannot be transmitted by these alternative behaviors. When will society, including the medical community, wake up to the fact that the only absolutely effective way to prevent nonmarital pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection is ABSTINENCE!”

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