During the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama said “government should do more to stop unwanted pregnancies.”
Without elaborating, in an unlikely way he was correct. A rigorous study published in the prestigious Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine of the American Medical Association found that eight-hour abstinence courses (funded by a five-year federal grant) dropped sexual-activity rates among teens by a third, with the decrease continuing for two years afterward. By contrast, “comprehensive sex education” (teen pregnancy programs) had no effect reducing sexual activity or in boosting contraceptive use.
Curiously, a few days later on May 15, U.S. Rep. John Dingell, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that Democrats will not renew the $50 million grant program for nationwide abstinence-only sex education. Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan, said he considered the abstinence-only programs “a colossal failure,” reneging on a five-year funding plan after just two years.
The government — despite the successes lauded by the American Medical Association — chose to ignore the study's positive results, as did the media.
And predictably, Planned Parenthood is ignoring the abstinence study. It's begun a campaign to ensure that birth control is counted as a free preventive service entitlement covered by insurers under the Affordable Care Act.
Finally, making a frustrating situation plain stupid, the Washington school system — in a city that cannot afford to collect its own trash — is asking male teachers to hand out free Trojan Magnum condoms to schoolchildren after they complete a 30-minute online course entitled WrapMC — Master of Condoms. The school system's health committee made the bulk condom purchase, at a cost of several thousand dollars, both for the larger sizes available and for the bling quality the gold package represents, according to school spokesman Michael Kharfen.
Governing by the rules of lowered expectations, victimization and zero accountability, the federal government and the Washington school system are less interested in teaching the children safe sex than they are in pushing the populist assessment that raging hormonal teenagers just can't control themselves and will jump into bed on a moment's notice. Planned Parenthood is happy to be the caboose in that sleazy daisy chain, providing termination services to tidy up and keep everybody guilt-free.
Abstinence programs work. Sexual activity levels among students who took a formal virginity pledge was one-fourth the level of that of their counterparts who had not taken it.
In Monroe County, N.Y., the “not me, not now” campaign decreased the sexual activity rate of 15-year-olds from 46.6 percent to 31.6 percent. The pregnancy rate for girls ages 15 through 17 fell from 63.4 pregnancies to 49.5 pregnancies per 1,000 — a more rapid fall than in comparison counties and in upstate New York in general.
Abstinence by Choice targeted 4,000 middle-school children annually in Little Rock, Ark. The program reduced the sexual activity rates of girls from 10.2 percent to 5.9 percent and for boys from 22.8 percent to 15.8 percent when compared with pupils who weren't exposed to the program.
Project Taking Charge, a six-week curriculum delivered in communities with high teen pregnancy rates in Delaware and Mississippi, reduced sexual activity by 50 percent relative to the students in the control group by stressing reproductive biology, goal-setting, family communication and the importance of delaying sexual activity until marriage.
In Ruckersville, an affiliate of the Central Virginia Pregnancy Center called Worth Your Wait achieved solid, consistent success in many central Virginia high schools with its six-hour fun approaches to abstinence. Preliminary program impacts show a 6 percent net improvement among youths across all demographics and grades who changed their minds positively toward abstinence.
Many of these programs propose that teens abstain from sex at least until they have graduated from high school or until they are married, and more than 90 percent of parents agree with that philosophy. By contrast, comprehensive sex-ed programs teach that it's OK for teens to have sex any time as long as they use a condom. Only 9 percent of parents agree, according to the medical association report. The abstinence programs teach that human sexuality is a predominantly moral, psychological and emotional act performed among adults. The role of the physical pleasure, according to the programs, is to strengthen a long-term bond of commitment, and not be an end to itself.
The comprehensive sex education pushed by this administration and its puppet organizations, however, teach that sex is all about attaining brief physical pleasure while avoiding transmitted diseases or being “punished with a baby,” as Obama stated during the campaign. It espouses sex with no commitments or consequences — just be sure to wear that WrapMC-approved government condom in the cool bling wrapper.
Advocates of teen pregnancy programs say they only want to give kids the tools they need to make smart sexual choices, including abstinence. But their failing messages are only trappings that encourage premarital, guilt-free sex. They give children dozens of reasons why safe sex is cool and fun but not one reason why they should abstain. Is it any surprise then that safe-sex proponents consider abstinence education a colossal failure?
Of course, abstinence means accountability, and President Obama has shown he considers personal accountability irrelevant unless the pills, the bling condoms, the Valtrex and dilations and extractions that are inevitable consequences, need taxpayer money.
If someone chooses to be sexually active without desiring pregnancy or a rampant sexually transmitted disease, then that person and his or her partner should be responsible for the cost of that decision, not the American taxpayer. Obama was right: Government is doing more — it's just not very effective.
Dale Brumfield is a payroll services broker and writer living in Doswell.
Opinions expressed on the Back Page are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Style Weekly.