Monday, February 27, 2006

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

1. Outlawing abortion is not the way to go about preventing abortions.


2. This country is woefully lacking in reality-based sexual education and accessible birth control/ family planning resources.

This seems to have gotten increasingly worse under the Bush administration, which simultaneously claims to be "pro-life." Pro-life would involve ensuring that we do everything possible as a society to stop unwanted pregnancies before they start.

So how are we doing? Not so hot. With high school teenagers actually stepping up to the plate and demanding better sex ed, and women having trouble getting birth control pills even from f-ing Planned Parenthood (via Feministe), one wonders if the current administration is actually seeking to INCREASE the number of unwanted pregnancies.

Bush has been steadily funding abstinence-only sex ed programs, while turning a blind eye and underfunding organizations such as Planned Parenthood, which provides birth control at affordable rates. And as we all know, actual birth control is a whole helluva lot more effective than telling kids not to have sex. Louise Melling of the ACLU writes:

Yet when President Bush proposed a $39 million increase in federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education in his 2006 budget, he asked Congress to do just that. If the president gets what he asked for, the federal government will throw nearly $206 million in the next fiscal year into programs that a growing body of evidence shows are ineffective at best, and dangerous at worst.

So what's going wrong with abstinence-till-marriage programs? Oh yeah, right, most people aren't getting married at 18 anymore, and actually *gasp* have sex before the age of 30!

reports only 7% of Americans don't believe sex ed should be taught in schools. So why are teachers trying to scare students by giving them blatant misinformation, of the abortion-causes-breast-cancer variety? Here's a prime example from the above article:

Alesha Jones, 18, of Waterloo said she caught a teacher in a falsehood about the facts of life.

The teacher told her class that 99 percent of all high school girls who have sex become pregnant, Jones said. "That's not true," she said. "(It) made me feel good to tell her the truth. I just said, 'I know for a fact that's not true.' "

Great, right? And here's the kicker: abstinence-till-marriage programs seem to delay sexual intercourse for 18 months, but in the meanwhile might just steer teens towards other (often even riskier) sexual acts:

These programs, it should be acknowledged, do lead teens to abstain from intercourse for, on average, 18 months longer than teens not in similar programs. And that's impressive. In the teen years, 18 months is a big chunk of time. Yet, it's worth noting, those 18 intercourse-free months are a special time and not exactly what the pro-life sponsors had in mind. A major study of some 2,500 "virgin pledgers" showed that the kids who pledge to abstain from having intercourse don't abstain from sex. They just have other kinds of sex. Virginity pledgers have porn-star sex (though porn stars appear more likely to use protection). These "virgins" are six times more likely to have oral sex than nonpledgers, and male "virgins" are four times more likely to have anal sex than those who do not take the pledge.

So... to cater to the minority of parents who would rather that their children be fed lies and half-truths, we're funding a program that doesn't work, while turning our backs on organizations that could actually hand out effective birth control to those women who seek it out (ie, Planned Parenthood). Great. I'd be all for funding programs that don't work, except for that little detail... oh yes. We have like, no money, as it's all being dumped into the disaster-that-is-the-war-in-Iraq.

Break into personal rant:

You know, that war that was going to be simple and short and effective... that war that was going to cost $1.7 billion? That war now costs $200 billion, with another $60 billion proposed. With that money, we could have made changes in the health care system, addressing the millions of adults and children with inadequate or nonexistent health care. We could have used it in our schools, and in catching Pell Grants up with inflation. Hell, we could have bought every Katrina victim a new f-ing house.

End rant.

Conclusions: Reality-based sex education & better funded contraceptive programs would do the most to prevent abortions. And we'd have the added bonus of actually taking women's rights to reproductive control seriously.

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