September 4, 2008
Testimony to the Hopkins School Board
Thursday, September 4, 2008
By Jamie Bell
My name is Jamie Bell and I am here to testify in opposition to the sex-ed clinic heading to Hopkins High School. I hope my
personal story and experience with the West Suburban Teen Clinic will convince you that bringing this clinic onto the Hopkins
school campus will endanger the health of many students.
At age fourteen, I was what you could describe as a rebellious teen. My parents had rules, like all parents, and tried their best to instill moral values in my life that they hoped would guide me down the right road. I chose a path that led to the West Suburban Teen Clinic. It was there that I learned how easy it was to get birth control, morning after pills, exams, condoms or whatever else I needed to have sex and not have to tell my parents. I didn't even have to go to a "real" doctor.
At the clinic I was told that my parents did not have to know about any of my visits or what birth control they were giving me. The clinic made it so easy for me to have sex. They made it so easy to hide things from my mom and dad. After all, since it was my right not to tell them about birth control, they didn't need to know anything else about my life either. The teen clinic opened the door for me to lie, and supported me in this deception. Looking back I can see that their counseling affirmed a continuous pattern of lying, secrets and cover up. This destroyed any mutual trust between my parents and me.
The clinic convinced me that I was doing a good thing by going there because I was practicing "safe sex." Was it safe to break the trust with the only people who really truly protected and cared about me? Was it safe when the clinic jumped at the chance to give the morning-after pill to a fourteen-year-old without revealing any of the negative health-risking side effects?
They didn't even care who I was having sex with! It could have been an older man. It could have been a rape situation. Anything. They never once took the time to ask. I was so young and all I thought was "Oh, I won't be getting pregnant if I take this morning-after pill." I was never given the facts about the side effects of anything!
I went to the West Suburban Teen Clinic multiple times to get the morning-after pill. They would ask me if I needed a couple back up pills to keep in a friend's house—just in case. Or to hide at my own house—so I wouldn't have to find a ride all the way back to the clinic.
My senior year in high school I went to the clinic for a pap smear. They called me three days later and told me that it came back irregular and that I was diagnosed with HPV. I was terrified. I didn't know anything about that disease or what the consequences could mean. I didn't know what to do. I was so scared because I had not told my parents anything about the clinic. How could I now tell them about the phone call I had just received? I wanted so badly to tell my mom and dad what was going on, but I felt I had dug myself in so deep that I just couldn't. My continued visits to the clinic only led to more deceit, shame, and a feeling of being alone.
I finally had a family friend take me to a real doctor who discovered that I did not have HPV. I dodged the bullet that time. I was so relieved.
I can honestly say that the clinic visits also had a very negative effect on my education. As I became more involved sexually and had more visits to the clinic, I would sit in class thinking about what courses and classes I could miss so I could make my clinic visit for more pills and condoms before the end of the school day. It made it difficult to focus on my classroom assignments when all I was thinking about was a pelvic exam or the thought of having an STD or being pregnant.
I am now twenty years old and I am very concerned about the long-term damage to my health thanks to this so called safe-sex clinic. They not only helped me hide things from my parents, they also hid the truth from me. The West Suburban Teen Clinic didn't care that I was a minor teen. They didn't care what the side effects of their pills would do to my reproductive system. My body is so messed up. I still don't have normal periods.
Why didn't they tell me that the morning-after pill hurts your body, and that if I was pregnant at the time of taking it—it was the same as an abortion?
They just give pills and condoms to kids and then leave it to the parents to pick up the pieces of the young broken lives. If I had only known than what I know now—how the West Suburban Teen Clinic's advice and pills could damage me physically and emotionally—I could have prevented so many of the problems with my parents and my family. If only I had never gone there. And now you are bringing them into the high school!
Maybe by sharing my story today, others will be saved from the same devastating experience. As school board members, you are responsible for the health and well being of the minor students in your schools. You need to protect them. You need to uphold the desires of the parents, not the wishes of a clinic that makes money off of kid's mistakes.
My parents tried to protect me. The clinic took that right away. They took over the role that my parents were intended to have, and they hid everything from them—the people who loved me the most. Please stop this clinic from coming in and ruining more lives.
I wish I could warn all the students at Hopkins High School about this clinic. They need to know about the physical and emotional damage that can be done by a pattern of pills and promiscuity. I wish I could tell them. I know the West Suburban Clinic won't.