Sara Hayes, a nurse practitioner, breezes into the examining room and soothes the teenager. Hayes takes a swab and quickly diagnoses a mild yeast infection — perhaps from scented tampons — while setting aside samples to test later for gonorrhea and chlamydia. Then Hayes explains birth control options, and the girl brightens at the idea of an invisible implant in her arm, fully covered by insurance. It will last at least three years and be more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.
Finally, Hayes arranges to give the teenager condoms and fixes her in the eye and tells her to protect herself from infections. Always!
“If you’re having sex with someone, use a condom,” says Hayes, half sweet and half stern, the bluntest grandmother you ever met. “If he doesn’t want to use a condom” — she pauses dramatically — “then he’s not worth it!”
This is health care at its best, preventing diseases and averting teenage pregnancies, all while saving public money. Yet clinics like these across America are in peril because of myopic Washington politics.