Barbara Pridgen says children in their early teens need to be armed with more than the slogan "Just Say No to Sex" -- they also need access to contraceptives.
But Doug Wilson, a minister with Pastors in Unity for Park Heights, disagrees. Making contraceptives available to children "is the same as licensing sexual promiscuity," he says.
Pridgen and Wilson were among a half-dozen people who attended a City Council hearing this week on a bill to legalize sales of contraceptives to minors under the age of 16.
Under current city law, people must be at least 16 years old to legally purchase contraceptives.
"When you see a 12-year-old girl who has already had a child and is pregnant with another, it's not hard to tell that saying no is not working," said Pridgen, who identified herself as a concerned citizen.
Wilson and several other clergymen testified against the bill, saying it encourages illicit sexual activity that goes against Christian teachings. Educating teen-agers to abstain from sex is the better route to take, they said.
James Brewster, a member of several pro-family organizations, noted that society has done a good job at educating youth to say no to drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
Why should children be encouraged to have safe sex when "we didn't teach kids to drive safely while intoxicated?" Brewster asked.
Councilman Lawrence Bell 3rd, D-4th, the bill's sponsor, said he agreed that teen-agers should be educated to abstain from sex, "but we live in a real world and in that world young teens have sex." He said they need to be protected against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Tuesday's hearing was held by the council's Judiciary Committee. The committee must approve the bill before it can move to the full council for a final vote.