June 4, 2012
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS
Pam Stenzel, who calls herself "the Sex Lady" has made it her mission to make sure no teenager or young woman ends up with a sexually-transmitted disease or unwanted pregnancy.
She told more than 800 high school age participants at the youth conference associated with last month's National March for Life in Ottawa that she did not want any of them to say "Nobody told me" about the consequences of sex outside marriage.
Stenzel's mission began when as a counsellor in a crisis pregnancy centre she encountered too many women who said, "I didn't know," after they ended up with an incurable sexually-transmitted disease (STD).
She has also encountered too many women who, after having engaged in premarital sex, are now married and trying to have a baby, only to find that a STD has destroyed her reproductive system.
Others have developed cervical cancer and had to have their uterus removed because they got the HPV virus through genital warts transmitted by a sex partner.
While God created sex and "it's awesome," he put boundaries around it. He also gave men and women freedom to choose whether to follow the rules or to "shake our fist in his face" and disobey – a path that leads to disease, pain and death, she warned.
God didn't make a "bunch of rules to ruin your life," Stenzel said. He created sex for marriage, not for love. Love is not a reason to have sex. "Either you are married or you are not."
"If you are married, go for it! With the person you are married to."
When working at the crisis pregnancy centre she found young women who were scared to death of becoming pregnant but with no awareness that they are at a four times greater risk of contracting an STD.
If the STD is bacterial, it can be cured. But a viral STD, such as herpes or HPV, will be with you for life. Some diseases like chlamydia, a bacterial infection, are asymptomatic, but cause pelvic inflammatory disease and sterility for women.
There are now more than 30 known STDs, she said, not just HIV, syphilis and gonorrhea.
Of young people who have had sex outside of marriage, 67 per cent have an STD. More young women have died of cancer caused by an STD than have died of AIDS, Stenzel said. But the attitude has become "everybody gets them" the way everyone gets the chickenpox.
Yet the focus on preventing pregnancy made the focus on birth control rather than disease prevention. After a pregnancy scare, girls go on the pill or take a hormone shot that will make them 10 times more likely to get an STD. "This little girl is going to end up sterile or dead."
Pregnancy is not the problem, she said. "The behaviour that got you pregnant is the problem."
Unwanted pregnancy gives a young unmarried woman options that include "bad, terrible or even worse," Stenzel said.
Women still suffer from the consequences five, 10 years later. Raising a child alone is not a good solution either. She has seen a girl 12 years old pregnant with twins. She has met grandmothers who are 24 years old, who had a child at 12, who has given birth at 12.
"It's not easy to raise a child," she said. "The number one indicator of poverty is a single parent household."
Adoption is the best option but it takes tremendous courage and maturity to give a child up, she said.
Stenzel said her own mother was the victim of rape at the age of 15 and decided to carry her to term in a state that allowed abortion in cases of rape. "
"My biological father is a rapist," she said. "I am still human. I don't believe I deserved a death penalty because of the crime of my biological father."
"The best choice is before you have sex," she said. If you find yourself pregnant, get help at a crisis pregnancy centre.
Boys and girls bodies are different. Girls need to be taught their worth that each one is a princess, a daughter of God, somebody's daughter who deserves to be respected. A young man should tell a young woman, "I would never ask you to put your life on the line to satisfy my momentary need."
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