Monday, September 01, 2008

Abstinence-only Does Work! (Just Not as Advertised)

So, now that the McCain-Palin people have announced that Palin's daughter is five months pregnant (on the first scheduled day of the Republican convention), and will shortly be marrying the father, lots of liberals are drawing the obvious conclusion: that abstinence-only sex-ed, of the kind that Governor Palin promotes, does not work.

This is a misunderstanding. Abstinence-only does exactly what it is intended to do, and does it superbly. It doesn't do what it is advertised as doing, but this is merely advertising. The public would never support a program dedicated to abstinence-only's real goals, and so it is presented as doing just the opposite of what it actually does.

Abstinence-only has never, ever been about preventing teen pregnancies. The people who back abstinence-only are not interested in reducing the number of teen pregnancies.

The goal of abstinence-only is, and has always been, to maximize teen pregnancy. This is what its backers really want. They believe that a woman's proper place is bearing and caring for children. They are interested in women becoming pregnant early and often, like Mayor Curley's voters.

They are not especially interested in women spending their prime childbearing years pursuing higher education, beginning careers, or competing on a level playing field with men. Those life choices strike them as unhealthy or unnatural, while a seventeen-year-old at home with a baby seems to them a sign that all is right and well with the world. That youthful pregnancies delay and defer and deny women's entrance to college and the workplace is actually viewed as a positive good by cultural conservatives. Eighteen-year-olds should have babies, as many babies as possible. If this keeps those women from going to law school, that's considered a bonus.

The governor of Alaska's teenaged daughter is having a baby. She has apparently been kept out of school for months. Another success for abstinence-only sex-ed.

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