Saying "No" to Bush & Abstinence Education

by Laura Snedeker

The morality fetishists in the Bush administration are probably seething. Fourteen states have kindly informed the federal government that they will no longer request funding for ineffective “abstinence-only” sex education programs.

Only four states had opted out of federal funding until this year, but growing evidence of the program’s uselessness and the government’s prohibition on the use of abstinence only funding for more comprehensive sex education programs have spurred other states to pass up the federal money. The Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the program, is deeply disturbed by the rebellious behavior of its previously docile charges.

“My greatest concern about states dropping out is that these are valuable services and programs, it’s the youths in these states who are missing out,” HHS spokesman Stan Koutstaal said.

Missing out on what? The chance to receive inaccurate, biased, incomplete sex education that fails to prepare them for real life? The Bush administration has moved programs that emphasized practical information on birth control and disease prevention to the backburner in favor of ideologically-driven programs that have little connection to reality.

A three percent rise in birth rates among teenagers in 2006 constituted the first such increase since 1991, according to a December 2007 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers indicate a reversal in the long-term trend toward declining teen birth rates among all ethnic groups.

Abstinence-only programs are not preventing teens from having sex, but they are making it less likely that teens will have safe sex. Under the State Abstinence Education Program, states may only use federal funding to promote “an educational or motivational program” that “has as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity."

Prohibition of providing information on various birth control methods fails to acknowledge that teens do have sex. 88 percent of teens who pledged abstinence failed to follow through with their promises, according to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health in 2004. That study also found that those giving up on the pledge also had about the same rate of contracting sexually transmitted diseases as those who did not vow abstinence. Given the rate of infection among teens who pledged, it is reasonable to believe that the rise in birth rates corresponds with the heavy emphasis on abstinence.

So-called “abstinence-only” programs also demonize those who choose not to let the “moral values” crusaders dictate their lives. In addition to teaching the benefits of abstinence, state programs must also emphasize that “sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects” as if sex outside of marriage guarantees a life of depression and depravity.

“Abstinence-only” education proponents would have been right at home in the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which viciously enforced the Taliban’s strict religious laws. The Bush administration’s attempts to enforce conservative sexual morality may not extend to beating women who show their ankles, but their rigid views are grounded in the same desire to control people (especially "the youth") through a backwards behavioral code.

The right wing’s obsession with sex is not so much an obsession with sex per se as it is an obsession with control. Official promotion of abstinence has given a boost to existing local and national programs that have long sought to turn the clock back on social mores. But while government legislation can't change behavior entirely, the indoctrination of "the youth" into new social attitudes is the most permanent way to enforce it. The “Silver Ring Thing,” a program started in 1995, encourages teens to show their commitment to abstinence by wearing a silver ring. Such outward displays create a visible divide between the pure and the impure, between the moral and the deviant.

Physical force is a crude and temporary way to enforce public behavior that often causes backlash or results in private deviation from the law. But the Taliban were smart enough to appeal to religion as well as to threaten punishment, and even in their absence many of the same attitudes remain. Social control is longer lasting and more insidious; private behavior need not be enforced by the religious police when it can be enforced by the disapproving stares of virtuous citizens.

(Editor's Note: Democrats in Congress are attempting to whack funding for abstinence programs out of the federal budget in the new omnibus spending bill which is still being debated.)

For other posts on this topic, please see:

(Political poster graphic © copyright The Project for the Old American Century, which allows the use of its material with the appropriate credit.)

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Anonymous said...

Most people don't realize this but according to experts like the noted British philosopher Monty Python, every sperm wasted on non reproductive fornication, will put you in pergatory for up to 5 seconds. That may not seem like much but when you consider the number of sperm floating in your average loving spoonfull, the average male should start shaking in his boots for fear of the retribution our saviour will heap onto him in the afterlife.

Wake up America and stop this wanton fornication! Shame on Ivorytowerz for your blind support of the pagan lifestyle.

Rick Rockwell said...

A quote from Sir Monty Python! My favorite British philosopher…. However, we should remember Python for advocacy of the Spanish Inquisition, not to mention full frontal hedonism with the lovely Carol Cleveland. There’s nothing like some screwball British comedy to put this screwball U.S. policy in perspective.

But if you want some topical satire on how the Jamie Lynn Spears controversy relates to this… check this out over at Guys from Area 51.

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