A Tale of Two Women

Nicole and Stephanie at Open Mike.

Nicole and Stephanie at Open Mike.

As I reflected on the range of emotions from our GAP excursion to Florida, the opening lines from Charles Dickens’ great novel came to mind:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness … it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …

Hope that’s not too literarial for all you people in Rio Linda.

Anyway, I am hopeful for the future when I think about the team of young people who accompanied us to the U of North Florida (UNF) and Florida State U (FSU).  They gave of themselves so freely, so that others might live and live more abundantly.  I was blessed to be with them.

But I can’t escape despair when I reflect on some of the students we encountered – students who believe that unrestrained sex (anywhere, anytime, with anybody) is another “entitlement” to be demanded, rather than a curse to be avoided.  They don’t know about — indeed, they don’t want to know about — the physical, emotional, and spiritual dangers inherent in the lifestyle they’ve embraced, not only for themselves, but for others as well.

The ups and downs of the week were personified by two young women we met along the way, Julie and Brandi.

“I cried until I couldn’t breathe.”

We had been to UNF in 2009.  As with every GAP, many students had said our pictures had changed their minds.  But we didn’t know about Julie.  She was a freshman at the time.

Fast-forward to February 21, 2012.  CBR staffers Nicole Cooley and Stephanie Gray had been holding “Open Mike” for nearly 2 hours.  They had withstood an intense barrage of pro-abortion artillery.  Just before they were about to close it down for the day, a young lady stepped forward and asked for the microphone.  She remembered when we came before.  She had been pro-choice.  She had been really angry.

“I thought your pictures were disgusting,” she said of that first encounter, “but they followed me home.  They followed me for several days.  And I went online and looked up a video of abortion.”

After seeing that video — likely the Choice Blues video featured on AbortionNo.org, a CBR website — she said, “I cried until I couldn’t breathe.  I changed at that moment from pro-choice to pro-life.”

What a blessing to hear those words!  On this day (in 2012), Julie had actually left campus for the day but had come back to complete a forgotten errand.  She parked where she doesn’t usually park.  She didn’t know why.  She walked a route she doesn’t usually walk.  She didn’t know why.  Then, she saw the Open Mike and decided to speak.  I told her that God had arranged it for her to come and give us much-needed encouragement!

She said we were changing many more hearts and minds than we could imagine. See Julie tell her story in the video below!

“That’s what vaccines are for.”

At FSU, it was clear that Brandi is quite intelligent, but like most of us, she struggles to blindfold her own prejudices, even for a few minutes.  She was much more interested in lecturing than listening.  Nothing I had to say could possibly be worth considering.  I’ve been around teenagers before, so I’m familiar with the disorder.

She did, as I recall, accept our position that preborn children deserve protection in the 3rd trimester, but I don’t think she ever told me what morally relevant criteria makes it OK to kill a 2nd-trimester child.

It is difficult to advance a coherent argument when you’re being interrupted at every turn.  We think it was their plan to come out en masse and interrupt each of us in mid-sentence so that nobody could hear us finish a complete thought.  Most of the time, she was interrupting to lecture me on things I had already tried to say myself.  Finally, I interrupted her, “Brandi, I’ve got a PhD in engineering, I know the difference between science and philosophy.  I know the difference between facts and conclusions.”

She asserted that even though the preborn child has structures you can see, they are not persons because the cells are yet undifferentiated.  (Which isn’t true, by the way.)  Anyway, the obvious question, which I did manage to get out, was, “Why should we accept your assertion that personhood should depend on degree of cell differentiation?”  I got no answer.

At that point, she changed the subject to contraception.  (CBR takes no position on contraception, but we do oppose any agent that acts as an abortifacient.)  She asked why we don’t hand out contraceptives, as if they are the silver bullet that would end abortion, if only we would distribute our fair share.  I replied that 54% of all abortions were performed on women who used contraceptives in the month in which they got pregnant (source).  People at FSU have ample access to inexpensive (if not free) contraception, but they still get abortions.

She countered with the unsubstantiated claim that the 54% reported by Guttmacher were largely people who ran out of contraceptives mid-month and could not afford to buy more.  [Note how silly this is: people are too poor to pay for a $1 contraceptive, but they can afford a $500 abortion .]

I told her that contraceptives fail, and it is not our goal to merely reduce the number of abortions.  Our goal is to get rid of the whole bloody mess.  And besides, I said, we have no desire to encourage people to put themselves at risk for deadly STDs.  Condoms fail, and even when they work properly they are only marginally effective against some diseases, particularly human papillomavirus (HPV).

That’s when she said, “That’s what vaccines are for.”

I was surprised by her candor.  “Brandi, is that the best you can do?  Counsel people to put themselves at risk for deadly diseases and depend on a vaccine for protection?”  As any safety engineer will tell you, the first rule for minimizing risk is to remove the hazard altogether.  But Brandi would encourage teenagers to engage in potentially deadly behaviors with only a thin layer of latex as protection.  Oh yes, the latex and a vaccine.

Or is it 25 different vaccines?  When I was Brandi’s age, there were really only two STDs.  It had been that way for centuries.  Now, a mere 40 years later, I’m told there are more than 25 different STDs.  The Associated Press reports that 1 in 4 teen girls has at least one.  What changed?  More contraceptives?  More Planned-Parenthood-style sex education?  More reckless and deadly behaviors?  Yes, yes, and yes. Of course we don’t oppose truthful education, but we do oppose encouraging teenagers to engage in reckless and self-destructive behaviors.

Perhaps latex and vaccines are the best Brandi can offer.  People on the Left apparently believe that people are so helpless, they cannot possibly control themselves where sex is concerned.  So instead of addressing reckless and deadly behaviors, they insist on latex and vaccines.

And they insist on it, not only for their own children, but for ours as well.  And the rest of us should pay for it.  And when our children get sick anyway — many will — too bad.  And when they get pregnant anyway — many will — the rest of us should pay for the abortions.  No thanks.  Leave me and my family out of it.

Our culture has become a cesspool, deadly for some, and I fear that the worst is yet to come.  Our only hope is a miracle.  Fortunately, God is in the miracle business.  If we pray and fast and sacrifice much, who knows what He will do?

Perhaps the Brandi of today will be the Julie of tomorrow.


  1. Wikipedia reports that the typical failure rate for condoms is 15%, and the perfect-use failure rate is 2%.  Those numbers are for pregnancy prevention over a 1-year period, not the prevention of STD transmission.  A woman can become pregnant only a few days a month; a person can contract an STD on any and every day of the month.  The more times a person engages in sex, the more opportunities for condom failure, so a person’s cumulative risk for catching an STD increases every time.
  2. Since returning from Florida, I have run across a 2011 paper by Peter Arcidiancono (Duke University), Ahmed Khwaja (Yale University) and Lijing Ouyang (Centers for Disease Control).  They concluded, “Programs that increase access to contraception are found to decrease teen pregnancies in the short run but increase teen pregnancies in the long run.” (Source)  More good information here.

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2 Responses to “A Tale of Two Women”

  1. March 20th, 2012 at 12:00 am

    D. Lynn Thompson says:

    It’s been a long time, Fletcher!

    I was reading this post and while I know we often disagree on the means, the end goal is the same. We know this. That being said, girls like Brandi are at a great risk for contracting HPV in a way that those who have not received the vaccination are not. She is carrying around a false sense of security. According to Merck’s website, Gardasil protects against 4 strains of HPV. There are over 100 strains. While Merck has obviously done a fantastic job at snowing the public in order to gain funds through mandated Gardasil injections, it does not actually protect girls to the extent that most believe.

    Secondly, while we talk about the effectiveness of sex ed programs (or in your case the lack thereof) there is a major hole in the education. When your group was at EKU, one of the young ladies had posted on the wall of open comments that condoms don’t always work. “My boyfriend wore two and they both broke.” Someone, somewhere along the line failed to mention that wearing two was a bad idea. Someone failed to mention that pills MUST be taken every single day, that the shot MUST be taken on schedule, that abstinence means NO sexual contact. Whether it be STD prevention, pregnancy prevention, or abstinence only programs, they are all failing the young people of this country and something needs to be fixed. I have no clue how.

    As an added note, EKU no longer offers free contraceptives on campus due to state budget cuts. Coincidentally (or not, I have no idea) they also no longer provide pap smears, STD screenings, or pregnancy tests.

  2. March 20th, 2012 at 2:33 am

    Fletcher says:

    Lynn, always great to hear from you. Ditto what you said about a false sense of security.

    Few people oppose people learning about contraception methods and how they work, or even that this education can be done in public schools. If you and I could set it up, I’m sure we could build something effective that we could both agree to. The problem becomes when people who have an ideological commitment to unrestrained sex are invited in to design and deliver sex educational programs.

    One thing that ought to be emphasized over and over again is the modes of failure and the consequences of failure. For example, your example of the limitations of a vaccine should definitely be part of the training.

    You mentioned the need to take the pill at the exact same time every day. I think most people who have been around teenagers will tell you that most of them would never be focused enough to keep a schedule like that. I’m reminded of what former abortion clinic owner Carol Everett said about it. She used her status as a so-called “expert” to gain access to public school students. She has stated that “Our presence in schools guaranteed a 50% increase in pregnancy.” She described her process for increasing sexual activity among teens: “First, I established myself with the teens as an authority on sex. I explained to them that their parents wouldn’t help them with their sexuality, but I would. I separated them from their support system, number one, and they listened to me. Second, our doctors prescribed low dose birth control pills knowing well that they needed to be taken very accurately at the same time every day or pregnancy would occur. This insured the teens to be my best customers as teenagers typically are not responsible enough to follow such rigid medication guidelines on their own. I knew their sexual activity would increase from none or once a week to five or seven times a week once they were introduced to this contraception method. Then I could reach my goal – three to five abortions for each teenager between the ages of 13 and 18.”

    I agree that something is broken. But I also think it goes back to personal responsibility, and unfortunately, there is nothing that will make everybody become responsible. We have to do everything we can to warn people of the consequences they face should they engage in risky behavior. But no matter what we do, there will always be those who take dumb risks.

    Maybe we are failing our children when we are not good parents … when we are selfish … when we don’t read to our children … when we don’t remain faithful in our marriages … when we are absentee fathers … and the list goes on. God tell us that the wages of sin is death. When people are bound and determined to break His commandments (by being selfish, by being unfaithful in our marriages, by failing to take care of our children, by abusing our children, etc.) there is no way that the society can undo all of the damage that will necessarily result. If we don’t improve the moral climate in our country, the human needs will overwhelm any solution that Government can do. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t do anything; certainly we must. But we can no longer ignore the source of the problem, which is man’s sin.

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