Friday, March 18, 2005

Burning the Bridge

In the same vein as my last post, I'm overcome with sad smugness. Not only has Hillary made a push to find middle ground on the abortion issue, but she discovered that there IS no middle ground to be found.

The measure offered by Sen. Hillary Clinton and Minority Leader Harry Reid entitled Prevention First would try to do just that: prevent unwanted pregnancies by funding family planning institutions, teen pregnancy programs, and education about emergency contraception. If I weren't already so cynical, I would have been surprised to hear that it was rejected last night, 53-47. The only reason given by the article was provided by Republican Judd Gregg, saying that it would block funding for abstinence-only sexual education programs. I couldn't believe that was the only rationale to block the measure, so I checked out the FOXNews coverage of the issue.
Referring to Reid and Clinton, Tony Perkins of the conservative Family Research Council said, "Their idea of reducing unintended pregnancies is more sex education and distribution of contraceptives. ... That's not the solution, that's part of the problem... If they want to start promoting abstinence, fine -- but they won't," Perkins added.
So apparently that really was the reason to block it. However, I'm still amazed at the insistence on abstinence-only sex ed in schools, given that these programs have been found to be not only ineffective, but misleading.
[A congressional] report concluded that two of the curricula were accurate but the 11 others, used by 69 organizations in 25 states, contain unproved claims, subjective conclusions or outright falsehoods regarding reproductive health, gender traits and when life begins. In some cases, Waxman said in an interview, the factual issues were limited to occasional misinterpretations of publicly available data; in others, the materials pervasively presented subjective opinions as scientific fact.
And for these programs we block a rare attempt to bridge the ever-widening gap between our parties? Yet another prime example of today's politics placing ideology and religion over evidence and science.


At 6:01 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Jesse, I'm just as outraged. Abstinence only education is simply irresponsible and is a waste of taxpayer money. There has not been one ounce of evidence proving it changes behavorial patterns, and yet it leaves kids without the valuable information they need to make informed decisions.

I'd also like to remind you that several months ago, Senator Bill Frist, M.D. said in an interview with George Stephanapoulos:
Stephanopoulos: You're a doctor. Do you think tears and sweat can transmit HIV"
Frist: I don't know...I can tell you..
Stephanopoulos: You don't know?
Frist: I can tell you things like, like..condoms..
Stephanopoulos: ... You believe that tears and sweat might be able to transmit aids?

At 12:07 AM, Anonymous Julia said...

Here are some of the stats I plan to use to back my contraceptive teaching in school health classes bill for YIG:

1) The circumstance of teenage pregnancy is much more common in the United States than in other developed countries. We have a teenage birthrate four times as high as Germany’s and fifteen times as high as Japan’s. (Annie E. Casey Foundation). Almost 34% of girls become pregnant before they reach the age of twenty, and eighty percent of those are unintended and unwanted pregnancies. As of 1997 the teenage birth rate here in Maryland was 65 girls out of 1000 between the ages of 15 and 19. Source: The National Campaign to Prevent Teenage Pregnancy,, “Whatever Happened to Childhood: The Problem of Teen Pregnancy in the United States.”
2) Every year one in four sexually active teens contract and STD. “In a single act of unprotected sex with an infected partner, a teenage woman has a 1% risk of acquiring HIV, a 30% risk of getting genital herpes and a 50% chance of contracting gonorrhea” (AGI, Sex and America's Teenagers, New York: AGI, 1994, pp. 31.). Almost twenty percent of sexually active teenagers (guys and girls) have contracted genital herpes by the time they reach the age of 20 whereas twenty five percent have while one in six sexually active teens have contracted HPV (which can cause cancer). In fact, the number one risk for cervical cancer is early, unprotected sexual activity. Source: 2002 Annual Report, Center for Disease Control.
3) A recent study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute shows that the US could learn from the contraception education system of other countries. The study showed that giving teenagers social support, full information and positive messages concerning sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as having easy access to reproductive health services, they achieve healthier outcomes and lower rates of pregnancy, childbearing, abortion, and STDs.” While the other countries in the study do no teach abstinence, they do put heavy influence on the fact that sexual relationships should be committed and monogamous and that the teenage partners should use contraceptives to avoid pregnancy and prevent STDs. Almost thirty-one percent of teenage girls were completely unprotected the last time they engaged in sex while the one third of girls who claimed to use contraceptives also admit to not using them consistently. Source: Alan Guttmacher Institute study and NOW.
4) The consequences of a teenage birth can be detrimental to a young girl. Teenage mothers are not likely to complete high school, with only one third of them eventually receiving some type of high school diploma. Beyond high school, only 1.5% of teenage mothers receive a college degree by age 30. Studies have also found that due to the hard financial situation teenage mothers are forced into, around 80% of teen mothers end up on welfare. The children of these pregnancies can also suffer; they are more likely to perform poorly in school and are at a greater risk of abuse and neglect. Further, sons from these pregnancies are 13% more likely to end up in prison while 22% of the daughters are more likely to have a teenage pregnancy themselves. Source: Maynard, R.A. Kids Having Kids: A Robin Hood Foundation Special Report on the Costs of Adolescent Childbearing.

Abstinence only stopped working a long time ago (if it ever worked at all). If you walk up to the average teenage girl on the street and ask her if she can get pregnant her first time having sex, there is a large chance she will answer no. Same with information regarding AIDS and sexual activity, most teenagers still believe that you cannot get AIDS through oral sex. The lack of knowledge out there is ridiculous and scary. It is time people got their heads out of their asses and did something about it.


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