Needle/Condom Exchange vs. Moral & Ethical Behavior, should it conflict? by Natasha Antoniak
Posted by benjamincrookston on April 15, 2008
I often say “should” is a funny word. It denotes an expectation or assumes that there is a “right/wrong” with whatever the situation is. However, in my opinion, this thought process detracts from what is most important in terms of treatment and prevention, specifically among the situation of Needle & Condom exchanges. Some think theses exchanges goes against moral and/or religious belief. Some think ethics are involved because of the use of resource & seemingly “controllable behavior” and therefore, it conflicts with ‘correct conduct of life.’ Others take into account the age of responsibility (i.e. it would seem ok to give out condoms and needles to people 18+ yrs (say in community health centers) but that it would be wrong to distribute to anybody younger (such as in schools) since it is under the parents jurisdiction because the kids are still considered minors). We also know the risk of HIV/AIDS and many other STD’s could significantly be decreased because of these distributions, not to mention the cost of health care would decrease because of the prevention and treatment going on. I think it is a matter of learning how to view the situation and discerning what is best vs. what people think is right/wrong. Joseph Smith, a religious leader, once said, “Teach correct principles & let them govern themselves.” Meaning, we can do our best in educating but what it comes down to is that it doesn’t matter who, how, what or why these people are doing what they are doing. We have a stewardship, as part of humanity, to take care of each other and not judge each others actions & behaviors. Yes, we can educate, encourage, and seek to prevent but it would be to global health’s detriment if we withheld our support and resources. I understand that this can be a controversial subject as it becomes a matter of judging. But how grateful we can be for our ever-growing knowledge and use of resource! For ex., this type of thought process can be carried down to the smallest & quite typical example of the girl in school or the church group that gets pregnant. Her peers or members of the congregation have a choice to make in whether they will support or shun her because they don’t want to seem to condone her behavior. Rather, this isn’t the most relevant issue at all. Let us look past the behavior and realize the health of the girl and the baby is what becomes most relevant. My point with all this is that this same principle and perspective parallels the needle and condom exchange controversy. It is about being humane and understanding the worth of a soul and the worth of its body and our stewardship over such gifts & people. May we seek the greatest quality of health for all people.