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Educator aims to knock out unwanted pregnancies

Carol Cassell

Carol Cassell

After 37 years of marriage and six kids, Carol Cassell isn't shy to admit that her method of birth control sometimes involved divine conversations.

As in: "Dear God, please don't let me be pregnant!''

Cassell laughs about it now but knows it happens more often than it should, especially among women ill-equipped to handle parenthood.

A nationally known expert in sex education and love, Cassell addresses the issue in her latest book due out by 2012, Beyond Knocked Up: The Personal Dilemmas and the Price We All Pay for Unplanned and Unwanted Pregnancies.

Cassell, 70, will speak next week at two local luncheons put on by Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. The events recognize the 37th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the landmark court case that allowed abortions.

From her home in Taos, N.M., Cassell recently spoke to tbt* about love, sex and pregnancy, and how they don't necessarily happen in that order.

You say that chemistry is the key to a successful relationship — even more than shared interests. Why so?

The blend is perfect … but you're going to have to have this deep passion for the other person to take you through the taking your dog to the vet and the job is crummy. It's good to have a lot in common, but if you look at strong relationships, they aren't each other's best friends, they're each other's lovers.

That's a good point, one that I bet makes a lot of people say, "Oops.''

So many women talk to me about the big build-up after the Internet match. They say, "The minute I opened the door and saw him, I knew this wasn't going to work.'' I always say take a second look. It might be there later. But if it's not there, it's not there.

Do you think abortion rights are at risk?

I keep thinking every other year that they are. It is the law of the land that you have the option. But what has happened is that through the really terrible violence that we have seen is that fewer and fewer providers provide abortion services. So in some ways, Roe vs. Wade has been deeply weakened, not because of the law but because of the practice.

What's your solution for reducing unwanted pregnancies?

Make contraception acceptable and promote the idea that you can use good judgment and still be madly in love. There's wonderful campaigns in Europe that promote the idea that it's not okay to get pregnant when you don't want to get pregnant, for men and women. They try to make contraception as something you need to do. Period. But we look at it as a total punishment.

On your Web site, you ask people if they think ex-lovers can be friends. What's your take?

I think it's a very mature person who can do that. But when you think about all the time, energy and emotions you spent in the relationship, it's really kind of sad that it dies on the vine. Somebody loved you. You ought to value that relationship. But, because of our culture, people find it difficult to maintain friendships after the romance has died.

Carol Cassell

The sex education expert will speak at Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida's Choice Affair Luncheons: "Beyond Knocked Up." The noon events are Wednesday at the Renaissance Vinoy Golf Club in St. Petersburg and Thursday at Maestro's at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. Tickets are $50. Go to or call (941) 365-3913, ext. 1124.

Educator aims to knock out unwanted pregnancies

01/21/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 22, 2010 7:47pm]
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