Ignorance and Abstinence-Only Education

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Ignorance and Abstinence-Only Education

Joe Veix

A look at some of the talking points surrounding pro-abstinence-only programs.

There’s a great op-ed in the Waco Tribune about Texas’s absurd abstinence only policies. We have a much more in-depth piece on the matter here.

The basis for both pieces is health education professor David Wiley’s "state of sex education" report, humorously called "Just Say Don’t Know." According to the Waco Tribute Op-Ed, "more than nine of 10 schools basically punt away sex education in favor of federally funded abstinence-only approaches."

It’s odd that we’re spending money to teach strict religious morals in our public schools and our government is hypocritically spending money on schools so that they specifically do not teach kids a subject. It’s difficult to figure out which is more frustrating.

Then there’s this quote, from Wiley’s report:

Roe has collapsed and Texas is in chaos.

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"I thought I was no longer capable of being surprised by the ignorance among our students. Then last year a sincere male student asked aloud, ‘What is my risk for cervical cancer?’"

The ignorance is widespread.

Let’s look at an op-ed featured in the Jackson Sun, written by Delita Johnson, entitled "Abstinence is a realistic goal."

She writes, "If teenagers become sexually active before they are married, then they are planning on either being involved in a pregnancy or contracting a sexually transmitted disease."

Let’s apply Delita’s logic to other areas of life. That is, by participating in an activity that has a possibility of negative consequences, you’re planning on negative consequences: by driving a car, you’re planning on having an accident. For the NRA members reading this: by purchasing a firearm, you’re planning to shoot your children (yhis is an odd example, I realize, but remember that this is the argument most of the NRA literature tries to refute, and members of the NRA vote overwhelmingly for the Republican party). This logic avoids any sense of control or safety on the part of the user. We all know, however, that if we drive with caution and observe all of the proper safety measures, we’ll likely never be involved in an accident, or we’ll at least greatly decrease our chances of being in one. If we are, well, that’s why it’s called an accident.

And the kicker for the article? "Save sex for marriage!" Right, repeat your point with an exclamation point. I guess that’s how you’re supposed to end a persuasive piece of writing.

Next we have a report from The American Prospect, about how "Colorado Republican State Senator Dave Schultheis doesn’t think that HIV testing for pregnant women should be mandated because women with HIV are sluts and deserve to die":

"Democrats were outraged Wednesday morning when Republican state Sen. Dave Schultheis said he planned to vote against a bill to require HIV tests for pregnant women because the disease ‘stems from sexual promiscuity’ and he didn’t think the Legislature should ‘remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior.’"

Should I return to my driving analogy? If you get in an accident, it’s your own fault; this is your punishment. Seatbelts? No, those are dangerous and immoral.

It’s idiotic to think that a negative outcome of an action is punishment for participating in the activity – a negative outcome is just a mix of lax safety and chance. There isn’t anything cosmic at work here.

Lastly, there’s a report in the Boston College paper BC Heights on an anti-contraception lecture called,"Contraception: Sexual Freedom or Sexual Slavery" (they either forgot or don’t know how to use a question mark). The lecture discussed "the dangers of contraception" and compares the founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, to Hitler.

The lecture also tried to demonstrate causality between the introduction of birth control and divorce rates.

Christine Friedrich, the lecturer who was the former president of the Pro-Life Club and BC ’08, and is currently employed by Generation Life, said:

"With the introduction of birth control came the beginning of affairs and extramarital relationships. Men no longer had to worry about getting their mistresses pregnant. Obviously, marriages in the wake of these affairs ended."

Right, because it’s the contraceptives that are making men cheat on their wives. If only the threat of pregnancy kept them from doing so.  I can’t understand how Friedrich simultaneously believes pregnancy to be a beautiful thing and a punishment for immoral acts. It’s a paradox.

I understand if someone wants to have a differing perspective on a political issue, but it’s frightening when so much of the dialogue – which could be filled with practical debate – is so saturated with ignorance.