This is a start at looking towards info from a Christian perspective on sexual health, abortion and other topics. There are many Christian organisations way better at this than us - so we'll post helpful links as we find them.
JULY 2004 ABORTION GUIDELINES
New government guidelines issued on July 31st stated that doctors can help an under 16 girl have an abortion, without consultation of the girl's parents. This is to ensure confidentiality between doctor and patient.
However, we feel a dangerous precedent has been set. What other choices are parents in danger of not being informed about in the future? With regard to the abortion debate, we recognise confidentiality is a significant factor but there are strong arguments to involve parents too.
- If a girl's only source of advice is a health professional, the choice may not always be very balanced. In the case of a girl in Nottinghamshire, having talked to her mum, she decided she wanted to keep the baby - but it was too late. The morning after pill had starved the oxygen to the baby. If a parent cannot even advise on her daughter's choice of keeping a baby, we find ourselves where health professionals are placed in a position of responsibility over a young person they have little right to have. I wonder if the actual details of what happens in an abortion are always made completely clear?
- An abortion is a very significant event. It always leaves emotional and usually physical scars that can be hard to mend. A parent's support of their daughter can make a massive difference. How can effective support be given if a parent is removed from the process altogether?
- The government has been advised extremely badly in the area of sexual health. The Family Planning Association has proved itself less than effective in reducing STIs (sexually transmitted infections), pregnancies and abortions. I'm not sure on what basis this organisation therefore advises government policy. As mentioned below, education to sexual health has had very little impact in the UK or US. In fact, there has been an increase in teenage pregnancy rates with increased sex education. Encouraging sexual abstinence is the only proven way to reduce rates. People can talk about how this won't or doesn't work, but fact shows that it does.
ABORTION FACTS (UK)
NUMBER OF ABORTIONS
In 2007, for women resident in England and Wales:
- the total number of abortions was 198,500, compared with 193,700 in 2006, a rise of 2.5%
- the age-standardised abortion rate was 18.6 per 1,000 resident women aged 15-44, compared with 18.3 in 2006
- the abortion rate was highest at 36 per 1,000, for women age 19
- the under-16 abortion rate was 4.4 and the under-18 rate was 19.8 per 1,000 women, both higher than in 2006
- 89% of abortions were funded by the NHS; of these, just over half (57%) took place in the independent sector under NHS contract
- 90% of abortions were carried out at under 13 weeks gestation; 70% were at under 10 weeks
- medical abortions accounted for 35% of the total compared with 30% in 2006
- 1,900 abortions (1%) were under ground E, risk that the child would be born handicapped
- in 2007, there were 7,100 abortions for non- residents carried out in hospitals and clinics in England and Wales (7,400 in 2006)
Among women aged 15 to 44, there were 17.5 abortions per 1,000, with highest figures for women aged 20 to 24, at 31.3 abortions per 1,000 women. The largest jump of 5.4 percent, however, was realized in girls under the age of 16, where abortions were committed on 3.9 girls per thousand, as compared to 3.7 per thousand in 2002.
Interesting how when a doctor saves the life of a premature baby there is great accolade - but another doctor can kill a baby of the same age and no reaction comes.
SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS - JULY 2004
Overall, STIs continue to rise (by 4% from 2002 - 2003) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The figures can be found below:
In 1999, there were 261,608 new STI diagnoses. In 2008, there were 399,738.
It is believed some of this is due to increased awareness and reporting. It is claimed that complacency about condom use, increased numbers of sexual partners and long waits for treatment are the causes of the increases. An 'expert' is quoted as saying, 'If people have a number of partners, if they have casual sex and don't take precautions, they are putting themselves and others at risk.' Erm. Yes!
WE have had a lot of sexual education and I have been involved in some of it with young people in school. It is very one-sided, very secular and usually only presents a viewpoint of education - rarely letting the students know of any other way. It's like saying: we know you're going to have sex and that's cool, just be wise.
The Christian message is: you don't have to have sex, it's OK not to, in fact you're the one with the courage if you don't have sex. In fact, as Christian youth workers, our role is not simply to advise on choices young people have made, but to bring wisdom, help and discipleship to enable them to choose effectively.
Where the state youth service simply tends to affirm young people in their choices, Christian youth work is often deeper, helping and supporting the whole person, spiritual, social, physical, mental and emotional. Keep up the good work!
SEX EDUCATION and SEXUAL HEALTH
Silver-ring-thing.com - about committing to abstinence and Jesus until marriage
It may be an unpopular thing to say but think about whether to do this kind of thing or not. As I've said, I've known youth workers to put ideas into young people's heads. Be so careful of this.
But what about sexual health facts? Well, the US and the UK have advanced, fairly hefty sex education programmes yet these 2 countries top the league for teenage sex rates, pregnancy and now the UK tops Europe in STIs (sexually transmitted infections). The motivation behind the sex information is to help and reflect sexual activity. There is very little said about abstinence until marriage. It's just not popular and in cynical Britain the reaction is 'oh it'll never work'.
Current UK sex education has done nothing to stem the tide of teenage pregnancies. In fact it's made things worse, or to clarify, in tandem with other factors, it's helped make things worse. An interesting study in 1986 found those with no sex education were half as likely to have sex than those with sex education. OK so that was 1986 but it's worth thinking about. Think carefully how and if you want to talk to your young people about condoms, safe sex and more. Think about how much you need to say, how much they need to know. This isn't about withholding information, info on correct use of condoms is important. It's about being open, clear, honest, but not corrupting and tempting younger minds - or your own!
One country that has seen success in reducing teenage pregnancy is Uganda. The message there is abstinence, sticking with one partner and the use of condoms. Abstinence is not popular in materialistic Western countries where people feel obliged to do whatever feels good, whatever they like, despite the consequences.
It's likely that the Christian young people you work with are less likely to have sex than other, non-Christian young people or those who have fallen away from God and their families.
So our other practical arm (in addition to on-going prayer) is to encourage family stability. The love and stability of family plays a massive part in young people waiting until they're married to have sex. Support families in your church as and when you can, encourage families and play an active part in involving young people in your church family.
The hidden consequences we don't hear about - let's take a little look:
First sexual encounters are invariably disappointing as teenagers - what about when people talk about you in private and in public about your sexual exploits like 'she's a slag' or 'he's crap in bed' - pregnancy is no small thing nor is parenthood - most lads walk out on girls who decide to have a baby - abortion is extremely stressful, the long-term consequences to mother psychologically and physically (increased risk of miscarriage and cancer, post-abortion counselling) are never talked about in schools - the risk of sexually transmitted infections - the risk of attack and date rape - the loss of the feeling that sex is special - sex becomes de-personalised and can become addictive or damaging - the cost of counselling, abortion, medical treatments and complications for STIs and more is huge.
So if you're involved in sex-ed in schools, churches or colleges, think about the bigger wider picture. The agenda behind sex education is disturbing, as it is behind the gay lobby and secularisation. Let's start to stand up and reclaim lost ground.
Jesus said this in Psalm 139.13-16 (Amplified):
For You did form my inward parts; You did knit me together in my mother's womb. I will confess and praise You for You are fearful and wonderful and for the awful wonder of my birth! Wonderful are Your works, and that my inner self knows right well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret [and] intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery]. Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days [of my life] were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.
From this we can learn so much about birth and creation of human babies in the womb:
- God formed us. Not just our outward appearance, but our insides - every sinew, bone, muscle
- God knitted us together. He didn't just whack some bits and bobs together like a modern art project. Instead, he took tremendous time, effort and care into forming us. This happens inside the womb. We are no 'foetus' but a valuable, priceless creation of God. The Bible talks about it being done intricately, wrought, embroidered, colours...
- God is fearful and wonderful. We need to give him the honour and respect he alone deserves. No human has the ability to give or right to take life.
- God's work in us is wonderful, beautiful, intricate, incredible. We were formed in the depths of the earth - a place of darkness and mystery. Scientists may know a tiny fraction of the miracle behind birth, but they don't know where it originally came from. Life comes from God alone, despite IVF treatment and cloning.
- God knew about our life even before we were born, and knows all the days of our life. No human knows this or can know, but God alone. God alone has the right to give and take away.
When we mess around with our bodies and destroy others, we are messing with the most incredible, beautiful and intricate part of God's whole creation - when God made man and women, he said it was 'good'. That's not a 'good' like we say it, the Hebrew means an abundant good / best / beautiful !
That is how God sees you. So how are you going to respond?
As God leads.