Five years ago I went to the doctor for a check-up. After a couple routine questions she asked if I wanted to get the Gardasil vaccine. This is a vaccine which supposedly protects against 4 (out of over a hundred) strains of the sexually transmitted disease HPV (human papillomavirus). Given the prevalence of extra-marital sex in our society (though it is not nearly so rampant as some would have us believe) I can understand the question. But I politely informed the doctor that, not being sexually active, I was not at risk for HPV. Rather than accepting this answer the doctor insisted that someday I will be at risk. Not may be. Will be. Excuse me lady, but that ain't happening. Know why? Because I am an intellectually capable human being. I am not some sort of animal that can't control myself. I have committed to saving myself for marriage and I am perfectly capable of holding myself to that. Therefore, I have no need for a (potentially harmful) STD vaccine and no desire to be unnecessarily poked with needles.
Last year my new doctor was, nearly literally, shoving birth control down my throat. For an account of that experience see my article from last summer: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/cw/post.php?id=669.
Two days ago I went to the emergency room in excruciating pain. Before I could be admitted I had to answer irrelevant questions and sign a mountain of paperwork (which raises the somewhat unrelated question of what idiot bureaucrats who have never had to go to the emergency room mandated paperwork before you can get medical treatment). In the course of that conversation this exchange took place:
Receptionist: "Would you like to be tested for HIV?"
Me, out loud: "No."
Me, subtext: "Can you give me morphine immediately?"
How sex obsessed has our society become that you can't even get help at the emergency room without first being asked if you want to be tested for a sexually transmitted disease? Is the moment when I'm doubled over in pain really the appropriate time to be dealing with this? How about you give me a painkiller and then sometime before I check out you can ask me if I'm at risk for HIV and, if I am, do I want to be tested for it.
Because here's the thing that really bothers me: all three of the medical professionals that I've mentioned just assume that I need, or will someday need, a vaccine for an STD, birth control, or an HIV test. If it were mentioned in passing at the appropriate time I might understand. Well, not the birth control, but maybe the other two. As I said, extra-marital sex, which leads to STD's, is prevalent in our society today so it's understandable that medical professionals would suggest tests and vaccines for these diseases. But the way they've been pushed down my throat over the years is completely inappropriate and unworthy of the medical profession.
How about we challenge our young people? How about we hold them to a higher standard? Rather than the "safe sex" attitude which says "they're gonna do it anyway so let's give them all sorts of drugs to limit the damage" why don't we challenge them to do better for themselves? No one says, "well, kids are gonna smoke anyway so let's make sure they use filtered cigarettes." Instead, schools are doing anti-smoking campaigns from the very early elementary school years. Why aren't we insisting on the same kind of awareness campaigns when it comes to sex? With a few rare exceptions, the only kind of sex campaigns kids are getting come courtesy of Planned Parenthood. And the only "safe sex" PP knows anything about is the kind that comes through inserting loads of harmful drugs in women's bodies. I've chosen better for myself. And I expect the medical profession to respect that.