Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sex Miseducation

"Explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support." Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin.

As you'll know from this post, I'm quite a fan of the lovely Sarah Palin - but I don't see eye to eye on her on everything.

That's why I was surprised to find this rigorous supporter of 'abstinence only' sex education having to deal with her teenage daughter's unplanned pregnancy.

I mean, talk about irony.

For a long time, I've argued that the problem with the Republican party's anti-abortion position is their diametrically opposed position on sex education.

The Republicans want to keep their children pure (i.e. ignorant) and have long argued to teach them to 'keep it in their pants' rather than educate kids about safe sex or alternative forms of sexual intimacy (i.e. the ones that don't get you pregnant.)

It's the most stupid system in the world.

Abstinence only sex education has proven time and time again not to work. It doesn't stop kids having sex - it only stops kids having safe sex. This is why the unplanned teenage pregnancy rate in Republican states like Texas is WAY above the national average.

The Republican policy towards sex education is causing a huge percentage of the unplanned pregnancies that ultimately end in abortion. Perhaps if they'd suck it up and start teaching kids about safe sex, there would be fewer 'accidents' and less of a demand for abortions.

But no - the Republican policy has never been to actually reduce the number of abortions (that happened in Clinton's presidency, but not Bush Jnr's.) It's simply been to make abortion illegal.

Now, I'm not 'pro-abortion.' I don't think anybody is. I would LOVE to work towards a society in which abortion is totally unnecessary. In order to do that, though, the damn Republicans are going to have to compromise on some issues.

Here's what I propose - a bill, put to Congress, that bans abortion outright across the United States, except in situations in which the mother's health is at risk.

In that same bill, a mandate which makes it compulsory for every 13 year old girl in America to be fitted with an IUD, which will be removed or replaced (depending on her choice) when she turns 18 (or 21.)

Similarly, all women in America would be offered free or affordable birth control - creating a situation in which a woman will go to a doctor to be taken off birth control when she's decided that she's ready to have a baby - instead of it happening 'accidentally.'

Bang! Overnight, you would end 99.9% of unwanted pregnancies (and the need for abortion.)

In that same bill, millions of dollars would be invested in sex education for teenagers, so they don't just learn about the ins, outs (and ins again) of safe sex. They are also taught self respect and self control so that if they choose to have sexual relationships, they're safe, healthy, consensual and respectful - teenagers wouldn't be pressured into having sex 'to be cool' like the characters they saw in Gossip Girl.

And finally, in that bill, we'd have an amendment banning capital punishment across America - because in a society that argues that abortion is evil because 'every life is sacred,' how can we have an institutionalized system of execution?

That's my solution to the abortion question - I'd be interested to see what people think of it. Please feel free to suggest your own. Just remember; the goal isn't to make abortion illegal - it's to eliminate the need for abortions.


ck said...

Mark your calendar for Sept 16. I actually give facts about when abstinence education works. But to say it doesn't work is a flawed, comment.

Roland Hulme said...

I'll look forward to reading it, CK. It'll have to be dynamite 'proof', though!

Abstinence only education has been discredited by the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the American College Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association.

Not to mention a 2007 report by congress found that abstinence only sex education didn't work to prevent teenage sex and 11 of the 13 government funded abstinence only education programs contained MAJOR flaws (like saying men and women had 24 chromosones when they actually only have 23)or miseducation (like making up statistics regarding the failure rate of contraceptives.)

Abstinence only sex education reads like a litany of failure.

Suki said...

Oooh, don't even get me started on the need for sex ed here in India. And abstinence-only sex ed - the thought makes me want to puke.

Admittedly, your solution sounds quite effective, but the emotional cost of it would be huge once young women began to realize what had been done to them. About as bad as going through an abortion, I think. So I'll just state the first thing I thought when I read it - overly simplistic. But such is the state of things that even though I'm pretty sure you're kidding, I want to take it seriously. Oh boy... .

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Wow - lots to think about. I think we should take a more basic approach and let medical science work for us.

I think researchers should "discover" a way to prevent male and female genitalia from working in a sexual capacity until a pre-determined age...say 21.

At that point, your "parts" start to work in a biblical way. Until then, they would be about as useful as say...the bellybutton!


Coffee Bean said...

#1 IUD's do not prevent fertilization... they prevent implantation. For those that believe life begins at conception this is not an acceptable form of contraception.

#2 What kind of birth control methods are you talking about? If women would have to go to the doctor to get off birth control that would imply that you mean IUD removal. All other methods require some sort of action on the part of the woman... taking a pill every day, going back to the doctor every 3 months to get another shot, using a diaphram or condoms. Birth control methods are pretty effective when used properly... it isn't birth control failing much of the time so much as it is people failing to use it the right way or at all. There are also side effects where the pill and shots are concerned. Having free birth control available is fine... but even suggesting something on the scale you are is preposterous and is a total violation of human rights.

#3 Who says all conservatives believe in the death penalty? We don't. I find that argument somewhat ironic myself. Democrats often vehemently fight for the right of criminals but not the unborn. Tell me this... how is it that a baby in the womb has no rights? A woman can go abort her baby... in some places up to the end of the 2nd trimester (I believe 3rd trimester abortions are more difficult to get but am not sure how that works and if it varies from state to state). Yet, if a stupid teen hides her pregnancy and kills the baby at the time of birth then she goes to prison for years? I don't get that. Where is the line? The law says it is at the time of birth... hmmmmm... so an abortionist can manipulate a third term baby to be delivered body first... preventing the baby from taking a breath and then stabbed in the head and have its brains suctioned out so that when the head is delivered it is born dead. That baby had no rights? That is legal? It is lunacy! What about when a woman is pregnant and is attacked causing her to lose the baby? Ugh.

Most of the people I know personallly would rather tell their kids about sex/birth control. We teach/taught abstinence but we also discuss birth control methods. We come from the stance that it is better to wait until you get married... but we did not and suffered some consequences due to that decision and have always been open with our kids about that. We've also told them that that choice is theirs... because it is. We've told them that there is nothing that can make us not love them. What we taught them is for their own good... to protect them. If my daughter came to me and said that she wanted to have sex we would talk about it and do what we needed to do. And they know that. Many Christians would be horrified by that and feel that by even giving them that option is condoning that behavior. We don't agree.

Come on Roland... you are painting all conservatives with the same brush again.

Roland Hulme said...

Hi Coffee Bean!

You're always challenging my preconceptions about conservatives! And this is no exception! The fact that you'd teach your children about 'proper' sex education (as in, how not to get pregnant/diseases) shows what a great parent you are.

So I'm sorry if you thought I lumped you in with a generalisation. I should never do that - especially not with you! You always defy expectations!

My problem is with conservative Christians who preach abstinence only, because it seems to me that they're sticking their fingers in their ears, waggling their tongues yelling "I CAN'T HEAR YOU! LA! LA! LA! LA! MY KIDS AREN'T HAVING SEX! LA! LA! LA! LA! I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

Then they finally take their fingers out of their ears and realise their teenage daughter is knocked up.

We need to love and respect our kids and that means TEACHING THEM - not keeping them in deliberate ignorance.

Sounds like you've got that covered!

You know, I had thought about the IUD. In colorado, they're trying to pass a law that recognizes 'life' as beginning when an egg gets fertilized - which makes the morning after pill and the IUD count as 'abortion.'

I think that's ridiculous. I could get on board with life beginning when a fertilized egg gets implanted in the womb. That sounds about right. A fertilized egg? No.

I mean, 25% of pregnancies miscarry before the first 13 weeks, so some people argue that life doesn't begin until that state has been passed.

I don't know... I know that I wouldn't be happy aborting 'my' child even a day after a positive pregnancy test. But that's me.

Anyway. I'm not REALLY advocating fitting IUDs to every teenage girl (welcome to communist china?) but I think it's important to point out the contradiction in some (but, as you pointed out, NOT ALL) conservative Christian's beliefs.

ck said...

Um... the morning after pill IS abortion. No doubt about that at all. Not sure what you are talking about otherwise.

I teach my kids that I desire them to be abstinent. However when age appropriate I will teach them about protection. And 95% of conservatives are the same in that area. Only a select few die hard catholics oppose that.

And my proof is nothing but statistics.

Roland Hulme said...

Hey CK -

"I teach my kids that I desire them to be abstinent. However when age appropriate I will teach them about protection."

That sounds great - I think I'd really been fed a bum rap when it came to conservatives and their attitude towards sex eductation, since you and Coffee Bean have both said you'd be upfront about teaching your kids about safe sex.

You did mention 'an appropriate age' though. What is that age? I think Sarah Palin might have thought that age was 18 - which explains her current situation.

In Europe, we get taught sex ed at 14/15 and I think that's just right.

Oh - re: Morning After Pill. In my humble opinion, a woman who takes that will never know whether she was pregnant or not, so you can't exactly call it an abortion. You need to be pregnant before you can technically have an abortion.

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

There is no "aapropriate age." I work for an agency that is case managing a family that has a 10 year old daughter with a 1 year old child.


Tom said...

Of course, according to the stats on page 12 of the pdf linked here, Alaska ranks 30th in teen pregnancy.

Liberal as all get out Washington DC ranks highest in teen pregnancy, followed by Nevada. The lowest rate is in red North Dakota, with the second lowest blue Maine.

Although I'm too lazy to run regressions or anything, I don't see much of a correlation between conservatism of states and pregnancy rates.

I really doubt that sex education actually accomplishes all that much in either direction.

Coffee Bean said...

I agree that there's no way of knowing an egg has been fertilized and many fertilized eggs never implant. However, I personally would not use an IUD knowing that it would prevent the implantation should fertilization have happened.

As for the morning after pill. That would destroy an implanted embryo. I will be honest here... I would be in a real dilemma if I or one of my daughters was raped. I pray to God none of us are ever in that situation but I would really struggle with whether to take that pill or counsel my daughters to take that pill because of the fact that you wouldn't know if fertilization would have taken place or not. I'm pretty sure I would choose not to for myself but... ugh! That would be a tough one to get through.

I try really hard not to judge those that have chosen to get abortions and there are definitely circumstances that I would consider heartbreaking either way. Sometimes it isn't a black or white issue. Not for me anyway.

April said...

Thank you for admitting you were stereotyping again, Roland. It takes a true man to admit when he is oh so very and undeniably wrong. ;)

I am totally with Coffee Bean and before I read your comment back to her I was rolling my eyes thinking Dang it Roland! You are doing it again! We (conservative Christians) are not all the same. (Actually most of my Christian friends do not even consider me a conservative. I'm a rebel who loves Jesus.)

Yes, ideally we want our kids to wait. Are they going to? Most likely no. I want my kids to be prepared. And not just about pregnancy, about disease. I want them to stay healthy. An IUD is not going to help that.

And as a woman who has done a lot of research about birth control, an IUD is not a choice I would make for myself, much less my 13 year old daughter.

The first step in preventing pregancy and the spread of disease is education. That should start in the home. But again, the pragmatist in me knows some homes are not going to talk about this subject. At some point the schools should get inlvolved so each kid is getting the correct information. My opinion may be unpopular, but I would rather be safe than sorry.

Expatmum said...

Wow - I like your blogs and your comments on mine but this makes we weep for one big reason.

As a female and the mother of a female teen, you are wrong on a couple of points:
1) An IUD for me makes me bleed uncontrollably and it's unbearably painful. (Sorry about the details, but you put it out there.)
2) and for you to MANADATE fitting a 13 yer old daugher of mine with it, is unthinkable. It is invasive (you try it), and since she has the same menstrual history as me, the pain would be the same. PLUS, she does not go out on her own in the evenings, therefore there is no need for such a contraceptive device. How do I know this? Because she is with me every evening (Not by my choice) and we have talked about sex and contraception etc already.

How about strapping some sort of device on the penis on every male till the age when he learns to recognize that "No means no?" (Seriously, - think about having your male body interefered with like this equivalent of an IUD.)

I agree with you on the capital punishment thing. And here's one more reaon - as a Law Graduate and former student of Criminology, there is no deterrent to murder. Most people are either off their head, or it's a crime of passion. In neither instance is the perp going to stop and wonder whether s/he will recveive life or death row. In a terrorist situation, s/he see it as martyrdon (in the US, think Timothy McVeigh). In no case is the death penalty of any use other than pure vengence - and if so, we should acknowledge it as such and square it up with the Bible.

And yes, affordable birth control - no brainer.

Thanks for letting me rant!

Becky said...

I think I might align myself most with Coffee Bean on this topic.

We would prefer that abstinence be taught above all else, but ultimately sex education belongs in the home.

We, too, have taught our kids about the ramifications of the decision to prematurely engage in adult behavior.

Not just the physical (pregnancy, disease) but the emotional trauma associated with being "used" or using someone else for gratification.

I obviously am a realist who knows that with going on 8 kids, more than one of them will probably choose to rebel in the sexual arena. We still will continue to teach them that abstinence is their safest form of birth control, and that we are there to help and to listen and to love them should they need our help in making big decisions.

I would (sadly) take my daughter to get on birth control if she was responsible to come to me and ask...I would buy my son contraceptives, but would they get that kind of help without me using it as an opportunity to tell them of my convictions on the matter...and of course my concerns? Hell no! :)

Again...I agree with some of your bloggers...thanks for admitting that conservativism is not equal to ignorance.

That would make a really great post, you know! That most of us really do agree to some extent more than we disagree! :)

The Maid

ck said...

14 to 15 years old is WAY to late.

Really 10 to 12 is the target range, but even then it depends on the child and situation.

I wonder if the 10 year old with a one year old mentioned earlier is the girl that was in Cincinnati (and basically raped).

But 14 is way to late. I could have EASILY been a father at 14 or 15.

The Morning After Pill is an abortion pill. Does it mean you always have an abortion when you take one? No. But when it works... its an abortion.

Roland Hulme said...

Wow! I must have been a slow developer compared to you, CK! I was more interested in video games than girls when I was 14.

Okay, that's not quite true. I was more confident at approaching and interacting with video games than girls at 14!!

Anyway... 10/12 sounds about right (although all the kids will DIE of embarrasment.)

As the Morning After pill - you're right. I guess if you think life begins at the moment of conception (which I'm personally not convinced it does), the morning after pill AND the IUD technically prevent pregnancy by abortion.