Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day 40: Bodies and Health Care at Oxford

I am learning first-hand what socialized medicine acts like: I can see a nurse or GP any time for free and get any prescription for 12 pounds flat fee, but I am on an 11 week waiting list for a physiotherapist (physical therapist).

In addition, we, like all other colleges, have a nurse in-college at the college "surgery." (The physician shows up twice a week for an hour, but I'm pretty sure he doesn't perform any surgeries.) I had occasion to visit this surgery yesterday. The overwhelming bulk of pamphlets and literature were for women, and about contraceptives and STDs. In fact, there seemed to be a pamphlet about every kind of STD and contraceptive method available. Free samples were even available in baskets (it seems contraceptives are always free via the National Health Service). This theme is followed in restrooms (lavatories) as well, almost without exception, on and off campus.

I commented on what seemed like a culture of promiscuity to the nurse, and she, who must do little else but counsel on the topic given the amount of literature at her door, dismissed it as being standard for undergraduates in general. Perhaps I have been too sheltered, even after living in DC for 5 years, but I have never, ever seen sex so blatantly marketing, discussed, and triaged for as it is here. Shocking front-cover magazines parade it. I have unfortunately seen those who are becoming dear friends heartbroken by it. Some may have even become sterilized by the ugly hand of a sexually transmitted disease, chlamydia, for which there is wide-spread screening in college currently (spread despite the use of contraceptives, which really only prevent one thing, pregnancy).

How grateful I am for a culture which still uses some amount of delicacy about this most important, powerful, private, and, I believe, sacred topic. More, I am grateful for a faith which stands firm on this issue, and that I have stood firm on this issue. How much heartache it has saved in my life to be morally pure before marriage, and how much joy it has and can bring within the holy bonds of matrimony.

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