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Reader Opinion: Support WeARE

In response to Commissioner Paul Thiede's comments at the Tuesday, April 24 board meeting, I agree that we should take a stand against "risky sexual behavior." Where I differ from Mr. Thiede is in what that risk actually is. I find it is far risk...

In response to Commissioner Paul Thiede's comments at the Tuesday, April 24 board meeting, I agree that we should take a stand against "risky sexual behavior." Where I differ from Mr. Thiede is in what that risk actually is. I find it is far riskier, not to mention unconscionable, to withhold readily factual information about human reproduction from our young citizens. It is risky and does a grave disservice to our young citizens to fail to teach them about safe sex methods and about healthy ways to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Ironically, in the very same edition of the Dispatch reporting Mr. Thiede's comments, there was also a story about STIs on the rise again in Minnesota. On a related note, Crow Wing County has the dubious distinction of having one of the highest unplanned pregnancy rates in our state.

It is abundantly clear that the services provided by WeARE most definitely are needed here. We are fortunate to have such a medical facility in our community to offer reproduction education, birth control and STI testing, particularly because our county commissioners apparently do not see such services as a vital aspect of community health. WeARE provides services to clients who either do not have insurance or are underinsured-no one is turned away. It is imperative that we provide our young citizens with the sexual education and birth control methods they need so they can make wise decisions for themselves and for their futures.

I appreciate that the other commissioners did not follow Mr. Thiede's lead when they refused to comment negatively on the WeARE grant application. I hope that in the future they would instead choose to comment-but positively-to support WeARE and WeARE's willingness to provide sexual health services to our community.

Mary Holbrook

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