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As I am one of those asking “how is the chicken cooked?”, according to David Sedaris, I found myself parusing Obama’s list of Women’s Issues on his website this morning; in particular, his support of the Prevention First Act. In my research of this bill, I found myself stricken with surprise at the claim that “abstinance-only” programs are “unproven and dangerous”. I find it hard to believe that abstinance is unproven or dangerous, and I also don’t like the idea that people are hijacking abstinance-only (a wonderful plan for birth control) for the furthering of anything but birth control (like their religion or their political adgenda).

NARAL Pro Choice America, in listing the consequences of this bill, says (from The Prevention First Act: Reducing the Need for Abortions – bold italics added):  

Fund Honest, Realistic Sex-Education Programs.  
For the past 10 years, anti-choice activists have spent more than $1 billion in taxpayer dollars on unproven, dangerous “abstinence-only” programs that forbid teachers from discussing contraception except to talk about failure rates.  Recent studies reveal that many of these programs also include serious misinformation and sometimes even outright falsehoods.  The Prevention First Act would establish the first-ever federal program for honest, realistic sex education.  This section also ensures that all taxpayer-funded federal programs must be medically accurate and include information about both the health benefits and failure rates of contraception.

I can not believe that this organization thinks that abstinence itself is dangerous or unproven. In fact, the only way to conceive a child naturally is to engage in intercourse. So I have to think that these programs are to blame. As most opinionated websites neglect to do, NARAL does not provide references to programs themselves, surveys of programs, news articles related to such programs, et al in which I can see what they are talking about. “Recent studies,” they say reveal misinformation and falsehoods; to which I say, “What recent studies?!” Just like my previous post about pastoral responsibility, I believe that opinionated people making sweeping claims has to back them up!

Sigh. Why can’t we just say “Kids, this is how you make a baby. You put A into B and more often than not, you’ll have a baby in 9 months, give or take. You want a baby, put A into B. You don’t want a baby, don’t put A into B. Simple.” You don’t have to mention God, it’s completely scientific and based in proven examples since the dawn of time and you don’t enable anyone. Let’s teach kids about responsibility and the mechanics without telling them God will hate them and they will go to “H-E-double hockey sticks” and without handing them lollypop colored rubbers and expecting them to remember that A in B = baby most of the time.

What this little, tiny blurb does do is raise my awareness that perhaps somewhere, out there, there is at least one program where people are giving bad information and labeling it “abstenince-only”, which simply furthers my fatalistic view of the world. There is always a human factor, always. Sometimes people want to advance their religion through some government funded program. Sometimes people want to sway kids to feel a certain way about something and manipulate them into a certain behavior. This looks like abstinance-only programs that guilt kids into avoiding sex at the cost of ruining their picture of Jehovah-Rohi. This looks like sex educators handing out condoms enabling kids to put A into B and furthering their religion of irresponsibility. I hate both.

Do we now have to regulate sex education programs with the government because some are pushing their own adjendas? Come on! Have we gotten to the point where we need a U.S. Auditor in every health class saying, “Oh, you can’t say that. Off to the principal’s office with you!” just so that teachers and schools will stay honest? If we truely are a pure government without religion, then let’s keep all religion out of our schools and teach kids the science of A + B. No talk about the afterlife and no talk about “sex r us”, just A + B = Baby. Baby eats, cries, gets sick, lives and dies dependant on you. How’s that sound, kiddos?

As a side note, I have to say that I am starkly surprised at how little I know about the depth of politics and the complicated process of governing over the affairs of the citizens of the United States. I solomnly lament that Jesus is, in fact, not running for office (would he be voted for if he was?) because in that instance it would be easy to choose a candidate whom I would be happy reporting to the Ancient of Days I voted for. Alas, the choice is not that easy.

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7 Comments

  1. I have to add that I think that a private school should be able to teach whatever the heck it wants to teach. If you put your kid in a Catholic school, don’t expect them to tell your kid about condoms. Likewise, if you put your kid in a left-of-center magnet school because they teach mad english skills, expect that your kid will probably have condoms thrown at him/her. It was your choice to put them there, so live with it.

    • missteenwordpower
    • Posted October 27, 2008 at 5:07 pm
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    Nobody’s saying abstinence is “unproven and dangerous”–they’re saying the abstinence-only PROGRAMS are. The problems: often, these programs teach misinformation about the reliability of other forms of birth control–which, which note as effective as abstinence, are certainly reliable. Correctly-used birth control pills are over 99% effective, and correctly-used condoms are about 97% effective. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

    The other problem is that abstinence-only programs often simply fail to communicate facts about other birth-control methods at all. When students in these programs then have sex–as some of them surely will, being mammals and all–they lack the education to protect themselves from pregnancy and STDs. They are less likely to use protection when they do have sex. And that’s the problem with abstinence-only education: it doesn’t stop many students from having sex, and it doesn’t give them the appropriate knowledge to do so safely.

  2. @missteenwordpower I assume that when you say “which, which note as effective…” you mean “which not as effective…”.

    Thanks for leaving your thoughts. You’re stating these effective percentages without leaving any sources, though, so if you either edit your post or provide another comment with some sources, I’d be obliged.

    In dissent, while I agree that we can’t stop them from having sex (is that really the goal of sex education?), just because we can’t stop them, should we enable them to have more sex? I submit that if we say A + B = Baby and if you don’t want Baby, don’t put A into B and then in turn say there’s exception to the rule, we not only heighten intrest in putting A into B but make it clear that we support putting A into B, embracing the exception. Additionally, A + B sometimes = STD even in non-explicit cases (Clinton-defined sex).

    Using this 2000 census chart, Assume, for the sake of argument, that the population of child-bearing humans in the United States of America is approximately 83.7 million people and if the rate of success for all manners of birth control is 98%, heck 99%, and all of them have sex once with birth control. Statisticly, 837,000 new babies are born. Kiddos need to know they are rolling the dice, even if properly educated with birth control. The question still remains to them, do you want baby? Do you want STD? then you want to avoid putting A into B.

    • missteenwordpower
    • Posted October 27, 2008 at 6:44 pm
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    That’s absolutely true–sex does lead to babies, and diseases. But that’s not the whole story. And my fear (and experience talking to students) is that, without an appropriate authority talking to students about safer sex, students will be inclined to find that information elsewhere. And what they’ll find is often bad: stuff about the pull-out method, the rhythm method, about not being able to get pregnant the first time you have sex, if the woman’s on top, and on and on. Tell students sex = rolling the dice, but then acknowledge the reality that some of them will do so, and keep them safe as well.

    Additionally, I don’t think it’s our right as adults to hide information from students. Indeed, saying there are exceptions to your A+B rule makes it sound safer to have sex: because in those instances, it IS safer to have sex. Failing to explain that a lie of omission. Teenagers don’t need adult endorsement to have sex, and will do so whether we educate them or not. While that may not be the ideal situation, sex education isn’t the time to be idealistic, it’s the time to be pragmatic. Anything else endangers students.

    As for percentages, here’s what the FDA has to say: http://www.fda.gov/Fdac/features/1997/conceptbl.html

  3. @missteenwordpower “…in those instances it IS safer to have sex.” Safer than what, may I ask? I would venture to assume that you mean that in the instances people use birth control it is safer than not using birth control. Certainly.

    But we still need to be honest about the numbers. In my arguement, that’s 837,000 kids that were told “hey, you can certainly have sex safely without getting a baby. Don’t worry about it. It’s virtually fool proof to experiment.” 837,000 new mothers who were virtually lied to. That’s sobering.

    We can be real with the kiddos and tell them if they do, in fact, want to gamble with their lives, we will prepare you as much as possible for the journey ahead, but we do not advocate you go down that road. With the consent of your parents, we will direct you where you can get advice and guidance about the exception to the rule (i.e. your doctor perhaps?).

    I’d say with the consent of their parents because they are still minors, consistent with our current laws on alcohol and drugs. Do we hand out beer in schools because we know they’ll do it anyway and we’re making it safer for them to drink? Food for thought.

    • missteenwordpower
    • Posted October 27, 2008 at 9:58 pm
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    Your analogy is false, because as animals, we have a biological sex drive, related to the drives that moves us to seek food and water. It does not move us to seek booze. Being human involves being sexually responsive. That doesn’t mean we don’t want young people to delay sex, but it does mean that it’s inherently different from most behaviors we discourage. A nearer (though still imperfect) analogy would be telling students they should avoid food, because there’s an entirely real chance they might get fat. Sure, people overeat every day, but prudence and knowledge of good nutrition probably reduces the numbers of those people greatly.

    But yeah, totally be honest about the numbers. Be honest about everything. Information is excellent, particularly in schools, where, you know, we go to learn things.

    And honestly? If we taught moderate drinking, instead of forbidding it like a bunch of hysterical prohibition-era biddies, we’d probably have fewer alcohol poisonings among college freshmen.

  4. Dude, “putting A into B” just sounds sooooo wrong. 😉


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