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Tuesday, February 25, 2003
From the mailbag today I have a letter from a 15 year old highschool girl:
hello, IM a 15 year old girl from Cali and as I was reading your web page for some info for an English paper, i came to the shocking and repulsive sentence stating that "It means saying 'yes" to sex you do want, and "no" to sex you don't. It means there's nothing wrong with you if you decide to have sex, and nothing wrong with you if you decide not to. You have the right to make your own choices, and to have people respect them" how can you say that having sex if you want to is okay?? I believe your sending a horrible message to our youth. Your promoting that sex is okay to teenagers just like me who are looking for answers from people like you. Do you know that approximately 4.6 million sexually active teenage girls will have over 1 million unwanted pregnancies, and 400,000 abortions each year. Yet, your still telling people that its okay to have sex out of marriage "if you want to," i really don't understand you people but i truly hope that God blesses you and allows you to see the kind of message your sending out to hundreds of people each day. Thanks for reading!
So I think it's important to engage this young lady. I'll try not to come across as a pain or a nag but a few points need to be raised here:
First of all, and granted the same thing can be applied to me as well, you would benefit from using proper diction, spelling, capitalization, etc. I understand that email allows for, and even encourages, the writer to be informal and not too concerned with niceties like these but your point goes so much further when you write well. This wouldn't actually be that big of a deal except that you come to me, notice you came to me - I didn't come to you, under the auspices of an english class. Certainly such a situation demands that you at least attempt to conform to proper etiquette. And secondly, and probably most importantly, you have come to me to discuss my "repulsive" quote. Surely if you truly want to engage a writer about their work, the quote doesn't actually come from me by the way, then surely it is very important to come across as competent and that is simply not the case with the way that you present yourself.
You throw out a lot of figures in your note. Let's talk about them one at a time:
400k abortions per year by teenagers: I find the number is closer to a range of between 52k and 275k in girls 19 and younger. Notice how I chose 'authorities' in those links which derive from Christian organizations like the Christian Family Network and the National Right to Life Committee. These figures are not any more accurate than any other as far as I can tell. I'd trust the estimates generated by actual scientifically based research more than I would these partisan groups but the point here is that when you make such claims you should back them up with references to where exactly you have gotten the figures.
I'm sure you'll agree with me that fewer abortions is a desirable thing. So in one sense it makes no difference whether the number is 52k, 275k, or 400k, or even 118 as any amount is too many. The reality is, of course, that that won't happen. Abortion has been a part of the human condition since there has been a human condition. No matter how much we may strive for that, or pray for that, or work for that, refuse funding for, or kill people for that, when the numbers are counted at the end of the day fetuses will be aborted one way or another. So when you throw these numbers at your reader, me in this case, it would seem you are saying there is some finate number, lower one would assume than the current one in which it would not be repulsive for you to read the quote in question. Somehow I don't think that's what you had in mind.