Last Tuesday I was given the opportunity to attend an event sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center. The talk titled, “Adolescent Reproductive Health: The Challenges and Benefist of Delaying Sex” featured a panel of speakers which included; Gene Roehlkepartain, President of the Search Institute, Laurette Cucuzza, senior technical advisor for reproductive health at CEDPA and Cate Lane, youth advisor for USAID.

Mr. Cucuzza spoke first, presenting his slide show, highlighting internal and external “assets” which were developed to enable adolescents to potentially make the decision to delay sexual interaction until later in life. These assets included support, empowerment, positive values and social competencies.

Laurette Cucuzza displayed her own slide show which followed Roehlkepartain’s train of thought that the more assets and reproductive education that an adolescent receives, the less likely they are to become sexually active at a young age. She mentioned several programs that initiated this education including the ‘Better Life Options and Opprotunities Model”.

Lastly, Cate Lane spoke of the importance to begin this education at a young age, especially that of young women in impoverished countries.

Now, one might read the report above and think, “Great! These groups are promoting the empowerment of young people to make better choices in their lives.” There seems to be nothing wrong with this line of thinking. But, ah my friends! There is a much deeper agenda being promoted behind this philosophy.

Through out the three speeches, I found it almost impossible to follow along these groups way of thinking. There is no logical thought process present that promoted true freedom and responsibility among these young adolescents. Instead, what I found was a group of men and women who believed that the only way to offer people an opportunity for making better choices about their sexuality was to promote the use of contraceptives.

Although the word ‘contraception’ was scarcely used throughout the discussion, it became very evident of the groups favor of this method of reproductive health. One of the most evident was when Cate Lane apologized for her informal appearance and explained that she had just dropped off her son at college. She then preceded to gleefully explain how she had placed condoms in his suitcase and ‘prayed to God’ that he would use them. The room disrupted into understanding chuckles.

Through out the entire two hour discussion, there was absolutely no mention of abstinence or Natural Family Planning.

Although I commend CEDPA, USAID and Search’s work to advance education, eliminate violence and promote a family environment for youth. Though in reality, they are enslaving these people to the use of contraceptives as the only form of ‘reproductive heath’. If these groups truly wished to empower young people, then advance the understanding and importance of abstinence and Natural Family. Unlike forms of contraception, abstinence and Natural Family Planning do not cost millions of dollars, does not contradict many countries deeply religious beliefs, does not pollute the community’s environment and most importantly emphasize the person’s FREE WILL to choose the healthiest way to respect and uphold the dignity of their sexuality.

Many times throughout the talks, the mention of child marriage was brought up. Now, my question is, how would the distribution of condoms diminish the numbers of these destructive unions and rapes? Instead of promoting a verifiable respect for women’s fertility, they are enabling men even easier access to sexual encounters without seemingly material consequences. In actuality, what are being damaged here are women’s body, honor and esteem.

Until abstinence and natural family planning are offered as viable options for the world’s adolescence, these groups are not truly offering a delay in sexual encounters, but rather enslaving them to the use of a product–a product that brings a multi-million-dollar revenue to companies every year.

In reality, the respect of one’s sexuality that these groups are grappling for, are not truly present. Instead, they are spreading a deeper disrespect for women and their fertility. They are not empowering women to know their bodies, but instead pose a drug or material substance as the only way for them to choose “safe” sexual behavior.

Help us to spread the truth about contraceptives and help young people of all ages and demographics grow in respect and honor of their God-given sexuality.