Should Teenage Girls Have Access To Birth Control Without Their Parents Knowledge?



Historically, the United States has based their laws on Christian values. This means celibacy and sex after marriage are encouraged. While people have always had sex outside of marriage it was frowned upon in society. Recently, casual/pre-marital sex is being normalized, especially in teenagers. This raises the question “should teenage girls have access to birth control without their parents knowledge?” In “Preventing Teenagers From Getting Contraceptives Unless They Tell a Parent Puts Teens at Risk” an article published by the ACLU, an unknown author describes the dangers of restricting teens’ access to contraceptives. The author also specifically explores the effects of taking away teen girls’ access to birth control. There are several claims made in the article including such as withholding contraceptives from sexually active teenagers will not stop them from having sex, they will simply have unsafe sex. The author references data that further proves this point. The author uses logos, ethos, and pathos to create a solid argument in favor of teens’ rights to contraceptive without parental control. 

First, the author infuses logos throughout the entire article. This is an argument to persuade which means the author is trying to lead them to action. Using facts to support one’s claim is an easy way to get your audience to believe your claim. Since this article is most likely meant to convince lawmakers and health care providers to believe them it is important they provide them with sufficient evidence. The author reasons that withholding contraceptives from sexually active teenagers will not stop them from having sex, they will simply have unsafe sex. The author states that “47 percent of sexually active teenage girls said that they would stop accessing all reproductive health care services from the clinic if they couldn't get contraceptives without first telling their parents” (Preventing Teenagers, n.d.). This statistic that comes from the American Medical Association, is alarming because it means teen girls would not have access to STD testing or pregnancy tests (Preventing Teenagers, n.d.). Unwanted side-effects of unsafe sex like HIV/Aids or pregnancy can have long-lasting effects on teen girls. The author understands the importance of having a fact-based argument when convincing a well-educated audience and uses logos to his advantage.

Second, the author uses ethos to convince the audience that they are credible. The article was published by the ACLU but the author is unknown. Since the ACLU is known for fighting for equality, one came assume that the author holds similar beliefs. The ACLU is well-known for cases such as Brown v. Board of Education and Tinker v. Des Moines, and their legal expertise in cases regarding civil rights. This in itself may be enough for their audience to consider reading thee article. In addition to this, the author references multiple large medical groups that agree with their conclusions to support their claim. “Medical experts caution that when teenagers cannot … the Society for Adolescent Medicine, among others, oppose laws that would require teens to involve a parent” (Preventing Teenagers, n.d.). While the author does not rely on their own authority to present their argument, they use the credibility and respect that organizations like the ACLU and American Medical Association have to support their argument.

Finally, the author uses pathos to convey the gravity of this issue to their audience. Considering that author’s audience is probably lawmakers and health care providers, they emphasize safety throughout the article. Legislators and health professionals main priority is to ensure the safety and well-being of their constituents/patients. The author uses words and phrases such as “take away teens’ ability to protect themselves,” “endanger teens’ health and lives and violate their rights,” and “dangerously postpone screening and treatment for STDs” (Preventing Teenagers, n.d.). This strong language invokes feelings of fear or concern in politicians and health care workers. Since they are meant to protect these people this may lead them to evaluate their beliefs concerning reproductive rights. This issue is presented as a public health matter, which is to a degree. While sex is usually considered as a private problem, teens’ rights to contraceptives becomes a public problem when STD rates and pregnancy rates rise. Lawmakers and health care providers may be moved to advocate for legislation on behalf of teens’ due to the strong language used by the author.  

It is clear that the author relied mostly on logos to present their argument, they effectively use ethos and pathos to convince legislators and health care professionals to advocate for teens’ rights to contraceptives. Using statistical evidence to prove their point ensures that their audience has information that they can rely on when advocating for teens. The author does not personally claim authority on the subject but instead uses the ACLU’s reputation as well as other respected medical organizations to establish credibility. They ensure that their audience understands the importance of this topic through the use of language that evokes a strong emotional response.  Regardless of one’s personal beliefs on reproductive rights, you cannot deny that the author creates a strong argument.