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ss triple helix - summer 2002,  Sexual Health - Christian doctors have a huge role to play

Sexual Health - Christian doctors have a huge role to play

The nation's sexual health is in decline, as evidenced by rising rates of teenage conception, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, cervical cancer and mental health problems linked to early risky sex. The government is committed to lowering the under 18 conception rate by 50% by 2010, but its policies of 'over the counter' emergency 'contraception' and condom promotion look more like panic damage limitation than an attempt to address the root causes of the problem.

This issue of Triple Helix focuses on sexual health. Trevor Stammers (p3) reviews a major study indicating that family planning services may be increasing rather reducing schoolgirl pregnancy and abortion rates. Chris Richards (p4) challenges the decision to make Levonelle-2 available at Tesco's, which he says will undermine the doctor-patient relationship and parental accountability and expose teenagers to more pressure to have sex before they are ready. Hazel Curtis catalogues the legacy of the sexual revolution for teenagers (pp6-8), and argues that little progress will be made without attacking the widespread belief that teenage relationships are somehow incomplete without sex. Trevor Stammers (pp10-11) later demonstrates that widespread condom use has been accompanied by increasing teenage conceptions and sexually transmitted diseases due to a combination of method and user failure and their inability to protect against herpes, HPV and chlamydia. Looking further afield, Claire Stark Toller (p5) and Jason Roach (p15) take issue with UN policy that has promoted abortion as part of 'reproductive health services' and condoned coercive sterilisation and abortion in China.

Jason reminds us that objections without solutions often meet opposition, scorn and resentment and Christians have often come across as judgmental and moralistic when speaking about sex. And yet it is obvious that societies that embrace the biblical model of enjoying sex within marriage will avoid many of the consequences of sexually transmitted disease, abortion and illegitimacy.

Christian doctors have a huge role to play in promoting effective sex education, crisis pregnancy counselling and the message that 'virginity is good and that saying 'No' is OK'. Dickie Barr's Love for Life programme (p9), which is now used by an amazing 60% of schools in Northern Ireland, is a wonderful example of 'best practice'. Let's be doing more of the same.

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