Sex ed and abortion: Responding to ChuckGG in Maine
In the online comments on the Bangor Daily News website (on the story about our GAP at the U of Maine), I was conversing with ChuckGG about the project and related issues. Suddenly and with no warning, the Bangor Daily News closed the comments. So, I’m stuck here with my reply to ChuckGG’s most recent comment, and only my own website to post it. ChuckGG, if you are still out there in cyberspace, this post is for you:
ChuckGG, thank you for your thoughtful reply. I appreciate the opportunity for rational discussion.
I need to make several points, and I guess the best way is to list them, one by one.
Please don’t think I oppose sex education in schools. There is no virtue in ignorance. But as a parent and a citizen, I am concerned about who will deliver the educational programs and what the message will be.
I absolutely believe that sex education programs should emphasize and encourage abstinence, even though we know some will have sex anyway. The NCHS reports that 68% of boys and 67% of girls between the ages of 15 and 17 have never had sexual intercourse. That number is lower than I’d like to see, but I would hardly call it “rare.” I can’t really comment on the difference between your high school and the neighboring schools. That’s anecdotal. A friend of mine introduced “Sex Respect” in Rhea County, Tennessee a few years ago and the result was a 75% decrease in teen pregnancies.
Yes, the proper use of birth control techniques will reduce the numbers of pregnancies. The effect of sex education is a bit harder to measure. If your sex education program has the tendency of dramatically increasing sexual activity, then you might well see an overall increase in pregnancies, even as the use of birth control increases. As evidence for the existence of unintended consequences, I offered a 2011 paper by Peter Arcidiancono (Duke University), Ahmed Khwaja (Yale University) and Lijing Ouyang (Centers for Disease Control). They concluded, “Programs that increase access to contraception are found to decrease teen pregnancies in the short run but increase teen pregnancies in the long run.” (Source)
I also offered the experience of Carol Everett, who was allowed to deliver sex education in several Texas schools. The result of her “education” program was to increase pregnancy rates by 50%. A key factor was increasing the frequency at which the children were having sex. She was delivering her “education” program in full view and with the approval of school authorities who, no doubt, were convinced that her programs were decreasing teen pregnancies.
Sex education in schools? Yes. Hand out contraceptives in school? No. Invite the abortion industry (e.g., Planned Parenthood) into the schools to deliver sex education programs? No way!
We got onto this topic because so many commenters suggest that if we want to get rid of abortions, just hand out free birth control and preach their use. That way (they say) we would never have to talk about abortion again. I must reject that suggestion for a number of reasons.
- It won’t eliminate abortions. The Alan Guttmacher Institute reports that 54% of abortions are performed on women who were using birth control in the month they got pregnant. It might reduce abortion some, but it won’t eliminate it. And our goal is not to reduce the numbers of abortions, our goal is to get rid of the whole bloody mess, because every abortion takes the life of a living human being.
- I can never encourage somebody to do something that I know to be dangerous, even potentially deadly. If I encourage people to use condoms and leave them with the belief that by using the condom, they can safely have sex with the next guy that comes along, and to do it repeatedly, then I have encouraged them to engage in reckless behaviors that will possibly result in a deadly STD. Condoms fail to prevent pregnancy at an annual cummulative rate of 2% to %15%. The failure to protect against STDs has to be even higher. Condoms provide almost no protection against the spread of HPV, the virus that causes cervical cancer.
I note that you and I are about the same age. Remember when we were growing up, there were really only two STDs that anybody worried about. It had been that way for centuries. Now, I’m told there are more than 25. The Associated Press reports that 1 in 4 teen girls has at least one. What changed? More contraceptives? More Planned-Parenthood-style sex education? More reckless and deadly behaviors? Yes, yes, and yes. Of course I don’t oppose truthful education, but I do oppose encouraging teenagers to engage in reckless and self-destructive behaviors.
This entry was posted on Thursday, April 12th, 2012 at 2:57 pm and is filed under Sex Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.