February 14 was National Condom Day and Family Planning
Health Services (FPHS) has joined the American Social Health Association in asking
Americans to "Get passionate about prevention." Family Planning Health Services has been helping people prevent sexually
transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies for more than 35 years. Most
importantly, we work to improve the health of women and men by enabling them to
make informed decisions about their sexual health. We also encourage them to
reduce the frequency, as well as the consequences of risky behaviors.
We’ve learned that people do not always make a morally
correct choice by their own standards. We’ve learned that people (especially teens) do not always make a
healthy choice, a wise choice, or a safe choice, and sometimes they don’t even have
a choice. We have learned that sex
education — whether it is abstinence-only or abstinence-based — whether it is
secular or religious — does not always improve behavior. And study after study
shows us that condoms and emergency contraception won’t work if people don’t
use them consistently and correctly.
FPHS is proud to empower our patients so they have fewer
unintended pregnancies, fewer abortions, and fewer untreated sexually
transmitted infections than they would have if our services were not
available. My own "passion for
prevention" is based on results. FPHS’ health care services and advocacy for
confidential affordable reproductive health care have given us better maternal
and child health and our services have helped women reach their educational
goals and participate more fully in society.
In the first paragraph of a February 11, 2010 guest column
in the Wausau Daily Herald, a proponent of the 40 Days for Life Prayer Vigil group stated that FPHS "believes that
teen sex is a healthy choice;" … that FPHS ignores "the harmful effects
birth control and abortion have on women;" … and that FPHS "lobbied hard
to change laws to allow teens as young as 15 to receive birth control without
their parents’ permission."
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I want to respond to the inaccurate assertions in the
first paragraph of the column: 1) FPHS does not believe that teen sex is a
healthy choice; 2) FPHS neither ignores the side effects of birth control or
abortion, nor do we ignore the risks and consequences of pregnancy and
childbirth. 3) The basis for confidential reproductive health care to minors is
the constitution of the United States and the Supreme Court’s decisions on the
right to privacy for all our citizens. Our state and federal grants require us
to meet that standard. FPHS follows Wisconsin’s mandatory reporting laws
regarding the sexual abuse and assault of minors. Although we understand that
not everyone agrees with the constitutional right to sexual and reproductive
privacy, we uphold it proudly, patriotically, and unapologetically