For those of you that know where I work (Planned Parenthood) you will probably not be surprised by my blog topic of abortion education. However, I am a little surprised with myself for choosing this topic mostly because I know so much about it already. But it is for this reason that I should be the one person to write about this topic. I do feel that it’s an important issue and that unplanned pregnancy is so common place in the U.S. that it’s important for teens (really everyone) to know about all their options before experiencing a pregnancy and preferably before they become sexually active.
According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute (2008) approximately half of American women will have an unplanned pregnancy at some point in their lives and one third (35%) will have had an abortion by age 45. In 2005, 1.6 millions abortions were performed in the U.S. which is high for a developed nation. It’s apparent that unplanned pregnancy and abortion is very relevant to Americans' lives and therefore they should be equipped with the tools that are needed to cope with this situation should it ever arise, which according to statistics, is likely.
It’s easy for me to compose an argument as to why abortion should be incorporated into sexuality education. It’s not so easy on the other hand to actually teach this topic. Because it is so controversial and emotionally charging many teachers are hesitant to touch this topic. They may be uncomfortable with the topic themselves and/or feel that they are not qualified to teach about abortion.
Now even though I have never personally taught on the subject, as a counselor (and educator) for an abortion clinic, I can offer some good advice for those of you who may need to teach this topic in the future:
1) know your own values/beliefs/attitudes about abortion. I can’t stress this piece of advice enough. This is something that we spent a lot of class time on during this semester and everything we talked about applies to teaching about abortion as well. Our values matter, but this is one topic in which it’s best to stay as neutral as possible.
2) Know your facts. There are a lot of misconceptions floating around about abortion. If you type “abortion” into Google search, you’ll get a lot of biased and one-sided information that comes up. If you need to look up information using the internet try searching “accurate information” and “abortion”. I’ll list some good reliable sources below.
3) If you are uncomfortable teaching this topic or are unable to answer questions students have, ask for help! There are people who are better equipped to teach this subject than others – like me! Having a guest speaker or presenter is one way to take the weight off your shoulders. You can use the guest speaker as a learning opportunity for yourself – observe how he or she approaches the subject, handles comments and emotions and presents the information.
Here’s a video – documentary style – which looks at a religious school in the UK and how abortion is being incorporated into its curriculum.
Web resources that provide accurate information:
SexEd Library: lesson plan from F.L.A.S.H. curriculum
SIECUS: lesson plan “teaching all sides” page 77
Alan Guttmacher Institute. (2008). An overview of abortion in the United States. Retrieved from Alan Guttmacher Website, http://www.guttmacher.org/media/presskits/2005/06/28/abortionoverview.html