Just say “no”…

Take a moment to read this*.  Go ahead.  i’ll wait.  It’s important…

It instantly transported me to my mid-30’s.  The years i was an active volunteer, and member of the Board of Directors, for the local Planned Parenthood affiliate.  In a medium-sized town (about one million people in the metropolitan area), we provided free, or low-cost, reproductive health care to about a thousand individual women per year.  Very few of the patients could pay much.  Subsidies came through Medicaid, or state funding for low-income women.

We noticed a disturbing trend.  Each month, an alarming number of young girls between the ages of 10 and 13 were coming in for free pregnancy testing – the same troupe of girls would be there virtually every month.  Of course they got a medical check-up, education, and an opportunity for free birth control (condoms, as a minimum). 

But they weren’t looking for birth control.  They were disappointed to get negative results.

We had an intern** on staff, and she studied the troupe.  More than gathering demographics, she interviewed many of them.  What we found was heart-breaking.

The short version:  The girls wanted to be pregnant.  They were being fucked by 15-18 year old man-boys.  Pregnant girls got attention.  Presents.  A seat on the bus.  All their sisters, aunts, cousins, friends had babies and they wanted one too.  It opened the possibility of housing subsidies – a ticket out of a bad situation.  Their boyfriends might stick around.  The grandmothers?  They were effectively encouraging the girls — Grandma liked having grandbabies: “Oh, honey, you are WAY too young to be a Grandma”.  Grandma wanted attention, too.

This was in the era of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say ‘No’ To Sex” campaign for abstinence.  Right.  Let’s replace ALL of the medical and educational work we do with some pamphlets on “Saving Yourself for Marriage”, and “Respect Yourself”.  Oh, and throw in some mindless folksy wisdom – “The man isn’t going to buy the cow if he can get the milk for free” – just for good measure…

Never mind the 21-year old married mother of three who KNOWS she can’t afford to get pregnant again.  “Just Say ‘No’ To Sex With Your Husband”.  The party line:  Well, poor people really shouldn’t have children, should they?  What’s wrong with them?  They breed like rats… We would much rather spend our tax dollars teaching them morality and catchy slogans than actually providing factual information and medical testing.

So i have to ask myself:  When did i stop trying to do something useful?  Why did i give up?  Sure, my own family and career started to consume more of my time and energy.  Life happens…

i have dedicated this particular phase of my life to ‘farting around’.  It’s where i need to be at the moment.  When asked what i will be doing in the future:  “i can retire in 7 years and 14x days.  Plans?  Tend bar, play in a band, and fuck off as much as possible”. 

Maybe…

photo found here

* Thanks to rob for the link…  i always try to go where he sends us.  Usually either makes me laugh my ass off or think harder than i’m used to…

** Through AmeriCorps… a domestic version of the Peace Corps…