I remember back in the day when conversations about sex were whispered and babies were born by immaculate conception. All three of my children were. Just ask my mother.

But actually I was a lucky ducky, and when I asked her where babies came from, she didn't give me the hooey other mothers in the neighborhood gave their kids. She sat me down and drew a diagram of a male organ, female uterus and birth canal. I was 7. I just wanted to know if what Sylvia, who was 8, had told me was true. She said a stork brings them to the grocery store, and the mommies and daddies pick them up from there.

Meanwhile, I knew another girl who lived around the corner from me. I met her when she was 11 and I was 10. She told me that her momma's boyfriend was having sex with her (using words you shouldn't print in a family newspaper). I said to her, "Don't you know that's how babies get born?" She told me I was wrong. She said you get them at the hospital.

I'm not sure this column could have been written for public consumption before President Clinton had his Monica moment. All of a sudden, Monica the intern and a different use for cigars were plastered all over front pages with Clinton mocking their actions with the "S" word. "I did not have sex with that woman." What a pair.


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On a lone trip in Mexico a year or so later, I picked up two Mexican hotel workers on my way to Colima, on the Pacific coast. The woman in the front seat asked me where I was from, and when I said Washington, D.C., she became very animated. "You know Cleen-ton y Monica?" she asked.

Sex and its pre-math and aftermath seem to be the invasive flavor of the month, and our GOP presidential candidates are on an outrageous contraceptive bender. Who would have thought that in the 21st century, contraception would be a number one topic among America's legislators? Don't they have anything else to do besides set up laws to probe women's body parts? Is there a latent desire among these men to become gynecologists? Isn't having a law degree enough for them?

Most of these men who have suggested transvaginal ultrasounds to determine pregnancy seem to have them, but being elected to office is where their hearts really lie. They see power over women as a legislative duty.

There is a group that sits outside a building on Route 40 every weekend, holding graphic photos of aborted fetuses. That same building houses a dance studio with students as young as 3. I took a 4-year-old to that studio some years ago, then I returned to talk with the group.

The group and I are on opposite sides when it comes to a woman's right to control her body, and that's OK. We can agree to disagree. But I do fear for young women who believe the right to abortion, which is legal, will always be there for them. That law has been chipped away all around the country like an ice sculpture. Nothing should be taken for granted.

As I reapproached the building, a woman from the clinic, thinking I must need their services, asked if she could escort me to the site. I walked into the clinic, and there I saw a young man and his girlfriend; a mother and daughter; and a married couple, or at least one wearing wedding bands, who appeared to be in their late 30s or early 40s.

My conclusion: The more contraceptive use, the less likely a pregnancy that could result in abortion.