The Oregonian tonight has posted a story about two Canby High School seniors, Hunter Mead and Peter Schultz, who are pushing a proposal to allow their school based health care clinic to provide "birth control in the form of pills, patches, rings or the Depo-Provera shot."
As a minister in the United Church of Christ, I want to applaud this proposal and thank the students who have put it forward. All of us - parents, teachers, coaches, clergy and others that work with youth - need to teach responsibility and encourage youth to make wise decisions. The wisest decision is not to become sexually active at a young age. But we all know young people don't always make the best decisions. They make mistakes. We should give them the tools to recover from those mistakes - including sex education and contraceptives - that prevent disease and unwanted pregnancy.
Some churches argue that sex education and contraceptives have no place in public schools. That's unwise thinking and, frankly, bad theology. Want to reduce the number of abortions? As the United Church of Christ has noted: "We know that reducing the need for abortion is best accomplished by making birth control and family planning available, accessible and affordable."
Want to reduce teen pregnancies (and all the studies show abstinence only programs DO NOT work)? Want to lift up children and help young people succeed? Give them the tools to do so. Providing contraceptives is a moral obligation.
Frankly, it is frustrating there is still a debate over birth control in the schools. In 1986, I ran for student body president of Sunset High School on a platform of opening up a Planned Parenthood clinic in our school to provide birth control. Protecting kids seems as controversial today as it was then.
Let's hope another 25 years doesn't pass before common sense, wisdom and compassion overcome fear and, yes, ignorance.