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Contraceptives should be kept out of politics

By Greta Hallberg, Columnist

Turkey. Stuffing. Mashed potatoes. Pie. Political debates? While all things get heated over the Thanksgiving holiday, one of these things is not like the others. They're shared together at the dinner table, but some are less pleasant than the rest. The worst political debate of all, at least in my family, is abortion.

Should abortion be legal? Should Roe v. Wade be overturned? What about rape and incest? Is it okay for the government to make this decision? Where do we draw the line? There are so many complications to the debate and what I've found is that it's entirely circumstantial. There is no good solution to the unwanted pregnancy problem.

Other than, you know, preventing the pregnancy in the first place. While health classes, our parents and our churches tell us to just abstain from sex, this is not practical for the world we live in.

The reality is that people have sex. People like to have sex. They do it before marriage. Sometimes, they do it for other reasons than making babies. Sex is one of the most basic physiological needs on Maslow's hierarchy. It is a natural and necessary part of the human experience.

As any Cosmo reader knows, sex can be fun. But it can also have negative consequences. Look at any college campus and see that sexually transmitted diseases run rampant.

According to the CDC, about 20 million STDs are diagnosed each year. While 15- to 24-year-olds make up about a quarter of the sexually active population, they represent half of the STD diagnoses. That's 10 million college-aged students diagnosed with an STD each year. With those stats, it's no wonder that one in four college students has an STD.

Sex can also lead to babies. It's how we procreate. While having a child, I'm told, is a beautiful part of life, it's one that I'm not ready for while I'm trying to pass my econ class.

STDs and pregnancy are both entirely preventable. Abstinence is taught in health classes, but it is not practical.

Confine a bunch of hormonal men and women on a small campus, and there's bound to be sexual tension, especially when alcohol is involved. We're young, we're curious and we're bound to want to explore sexually.

While sex is inevitable, the consequences are not. Condoms are offered for free on campus, and that is a beautiful thing. Birth control, while it's supposed to be covered by Obamacare, has seen considerable backlash from religious employers who do not feel they should have to cover it with their insurance plans.

This, to me, is totally nuts. If you are going to be anti-abortion, which is a legitimate stance, you have to provide options other than abstinence. Religious institutions and the political far right are simply caught in the past if they think abstinence is the way to fix society's problems.

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America tried to ban alcohol, but people drank anyway. Actually, they drank in excess with far more consequences under Prohibition. Sex just might be the same way. Tell people not to do something and they're bound to do it. Teach them how to do it safely? People still get to do what they inevitably will without the risk of an unplanned baby or an STD.

Is abstaining until marriage a noble goal? Absolutely. Is it practical? Not at all. People do not get married at 18 anymore. People are going to have sex. Instead of doing everything in their power to fight it, both the right and the left need to work together to make sure people are protected from the negative consequences.

Better education and dissemination of contraceptives leads to fewer unwanted pregnancies, and therefore fewer abortions. Contraceptives should not be up for political debate. They are a smart and preventative measure, kind of like a flu shot. While the moral dilemma associated with abortion is complicated, I don't think the one for free birth control is.