By Liz Ontiveros
FirstLook now provides STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) testing for men. This was a huge addition to the services we offer that promote sexual health and a culture of life in Ellis County. You may be wondering, how can testing men help pregnant women who may be considering abortion?
We know that one of the biggest influences on a woman seeking abortion is the father of the baby. Most women who abort do so because of either pressure or lack of support, from family and/or the father of the baby. Many times we hear from women, “If I knew the father wanted his baby and would take care of his child, I would keep the baby.”
But too often, men leave the decision up to the women, and feel they are supporting her by letting her do “whatever she wants.”
How do we interrupt this vicious cycle? By educating men. To do that, we must get them in the door. An effective way is through STI testing.
FirstLook’s first male STI client was a young man named Ricky. He was in college and not in a committed relationship. As Ricky sat talking with the nurse in the exam room, he saw pictures on the wall of fetal development and a poster with a graph that showed sexual risk exposure based on the number of partners. He received a self-paced STI educational presentation on a tablet, which he viewed privately. This is the same educational presentation that our female clients receive.
The nurse explained that the last portion of the presentation addressed pregnancy and was optional for him, but that since he is sexually active, pregnancy is always a possibility.
When the nurse returned to review the teaching, she asked Ricky if he had learned anything new. His response was, “I didn’t know STIs could affect the baby.”
This man’s perception of STIs had suddenly changed, and he saw the greater impact they can have. After finishing with the nurse, Ricky met briefly with a client coordinator and made a return appointment.
When Ricky returned the next week for his test results from the nurse, he also met with FirstLook’s male client coordinator. Having an opportunity to discuss future plans and life choices with a man added to the depth of education he received.
During these two encounters at FirstLook, Ricky became aware of a place where clients are treated with respect and compassion, providing services focused on helping women and men make healthy sexual choices.
Imagine if Ricky has a friend who is also concerned about his or her sexual health, or he hears of a woman who just found out she’s pregnant but hadn’t planned to be.
Do you think he might suggest they come to FirstLook?
We do, and that’s what we’re counting on.
Note: This is a true FirstLook story. Only the names have been changed to protect client identities.
FirstLook is leading Ellis County to embrace life by promoting best sexual health practices and providing family support in the name of Jesus Christ. We focus on real lives, real stories, and real impacts being made thanks to the positive, life-affirming alternatives to abortion we offer to women and families facing an unplanned pregnancy. Learn how you can be part of our Real Lives campaign at https://friendsoffirstlook.org/reallives/.