Thursday, October 1, 2009

Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behaviour

Surgeon General David Satcher in 2001 issued the following Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behaviour in July 2001. It continues today to be highly worthy of consideration:

"Sexual responsibility should be understood in the broadest sense. While personal responsibility is crucial to any individual's health status, communities also have important responsibilities. Individual responsibility includes understanding and awareness of one's sexuality and sexual development: respect for oneself and one's partner; avoidance of physical or emotional harm to either oneself or one's partner; ensuring that pregnancy occurs only when welcomed; and recognition and tolerance of the diversity of sexual values within any community. Community responsibility includes assurance that it's members have access to developmentally and culturally appropropriate sexuality education, as well as sexual and reproductive health care and counselling; the lattitude to make appropriate sexual and reproductive choices; respect for diversity; and freedom from stigmatization and violence on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation."

It truly is thought provoking and my tendency is to agree with all of it except the inclusion of "emotional harm". This is a frightening 'weasel word' with no objective standards and yet the greatest openess to abuse. "I may personally feel I'm emotionally harmed by your not tolerating that I find you emotionally harmful and I do intend fully to be compensated for your emotionally harming me by your very existence."
In addition I think it's concerning to say "pregnancy occurs only when welcomed." I've seen many patients who have been on the birth control pill and have still got pregnant. Then there are all those other pregnancies. The word "pregnancy" opens a whole kettle of fish. It's also kind of 'baiting' to the pro life group who would agree that this 'should' be the case however it's "pap" when it doesn't get into the nitty gritty. I would have much preferred a more realistic and compassionate statement such as ' agree that pregancy occurs best when most welcomed and together work towards that goal."
Otherwise, I like it. And while I might criticize these two elements of Satcher's 'call to action' I must credit the clear evidence of much thought being directed to the issues facing individuals and society in 2001 and still today in 2009.

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