Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Years of abstinence programs but higher pregnancy rates

Teen pregnancy rates have risen in the US by 3%, the first reversal in the downward trend that started in 1990. Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association, a group that only exists because of Bush redirecting money from your pocket into theirs, says the rise in pregnancy rates is "another opportunity to throw a barb at abstinence education." Abstinence doesn't need education. Abstinence is doing nothing and any idiot can do nothing. On the other hand, responsible sexuality takes information and knowledge—two things that religious loons think are dangerous even for adults.

For teens, 15-17, the pregnancy rate reached its highest point in 1990 and it steadily declined, year after year, until 2006 (the data for 2006 is what is now being released.) In 2006 it rose for the first time since the high in 1990.

Apparently all that government effort to stop teen sex hasn't worked. In 2007 the government crowed that teens were having less sex than ever before. The bureaucrats reported that in 2005 47 percent of high school students reported they were sexually active, down from 54 percent in 1991. The government said that lowering of reported sexual activity was good and that it lead to lower "birth rates." But teen pregnancy rates went up, not down. And by 2006 birth rates were also up.

Less sex is supposedly taking place but pregnancy rates are up. That would seem to indicate that what changed is that fewer teens are now taking precautions to avoid unwanted pregnancy—and for most teens being pregnant is unwanted. This would seem to verify the criticism of the abstinence programs that what they do is encourage reckless sexuality among teens.

The dilemma for the moral conservative (or immoral conservative, depending on your point of view) is that teens are having less sex but there are more pregnant teens. Perhaps sex education does "encourage" sex but it would seem to encourage responsible sex. And perhaps abstinence encourages less sex but it would seem to discourage responsible sex as well. So, is the choice between more teenage sex with less pregnancies or less teenage sex with more pregnancies?

If you can only have one or the other which should the conservative support? I guess it depends on whether or not the conservative in question actually cares about teens getting pregnant more than he is horrified by teenage sexuality. My guess is that practical conservatives, who worry because teen pregnancy creates social problems for the teen, will want less pregnancy. But the moralistic conservative, imbibed with "biblical morality" will think the sex itself is immoral and be thrilled that there is less of the "dirty" activity going on in general, even if the result is more ruined lives. And, when it comes to the social problems of girls becoming mothers, the moralistic conservative is likely to see that as nothing more than the "wages of sin,
" which are a good thing since they discourage "immorality."

I'm not surprised that years of government abstinence programs would lead to higher pregnancy rates. Couterprodutive results are often the result of government meddling. With that in mind I can't say I'm hopeful for the state of the middle class now that Obama has pledged to protect them. I've watched how government programs in the US "protect" kids and it isn't pretty. I've seen how we our government went in to Iraqi to "protect" people from Saddam Hussein. And I've seen how the drug warriors protect us from drugs and the travel Nazis protect us from terrorists. Perhaps we should just kiss the middle-class good bye now and get it over with.

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