Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution [Link]
If young adults responded to scare tactics, their rate of fatal car crashes would not be twice that of other drivers. So it's alarming to find similar scare tactics, along with rampant distortions, in the abstinence-only programs now taught in many U.S. schools.
Among the bogus information documented in a review of the most widely used abstinence-only curricula: Pregnancy can result from touching, 5 percent to 10 percent of women can't become pregnant after an abortion, and condoms aren't effective in preventing sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.
Because the review was requested by a Democratic congressman who supports abortion rights, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), critics charge there's a liberal conspiracy to revive comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and contraception.
"Most taxpayers would be shocked by visiting Planned Parenthood's Web site for teens to see what 'comprehensive' sex education is really all about," said Libby Gray of Project Reality, among 11 abstinence publishers admonished for misleading materials.
Most taxpayers would also be shocked to know they're paying $170 million this year alone to have millions of adolescents told that a fetus gets "24 chromosomes from the mother and 24 chromosomes from the father," as one abstinence program contends. The actual number is 23.
The burgeoning abstinence-only industry reflects a moral agenda that's not grounded in fact, science or reality. Yes, teens ought to be encouraged to postpone sex because it's better for their health and their well-being. But if they choose not to — and two-thirds of American teens are sexually active by the time they graduate high school — they need to know how to protect themselves from pregnancy and disease.
The research shows that the most effective approaches deliver a strong dual message that teenagers should delay sexual activity, but that if they are active, they should use contraceptives.
"There's no evidence to date that abstinence-only programs — that only give the message of no sex until marriage — work," says Cynthia Dailard, a senior public policy associate with the Alan Guttmacher Institute.
One of the abstinence publishers criticized for factual errors is the Atlanta-based Choosing the Best, co-founded and run by Bruce Cook, who is also the Department of Human Resources board chairman. The review cites a Choosing the Best book that includes the statement: "When used by real people in real-life situations, research confirms that 14 percent of the women who use condoms scrupulously for birth control become pregnant within a year." In reality, couples who use condoms "scrupulously" have failure rates of 3 percent or less.
Such misinformation about basic contraception doesn't safeguard teens; it endangers them.
When Columbia University researchers interviewed teens who had taken virginity "pledges," they found 88 percent of them later engaged in premarital sex. But compared to their non-pledging sexually active peers, the fallen pledgers were less likely to use contraceptives or to seek testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
In their defense, advocates of abstinence-only programs cite a study on declining teen pregnancy rates in "The Journal of Adolescent Family Medicine" that they maintain validates their curricula.
However, the lead author of that study, Dr. John Santelli, disputed that conclusion in a written statement: "Our study and the weight of scientific evidence do not justify an increase in federal funding for abstinence-only funding. On the other hand, comprehensive sexuality education curricula, which support abstinence for non-sexually active teens and encourage contraceptive use for those teens who are sexually active, have shown improvement in both behaviors."
Also, there is this gem from pir_anha's journal this morning:
whilst browsing today, i ran across somebody who was, i kid you not, quoting leviticus to show that we should not allow gays to marry.
i said something derogatory to the paramour, fuming about the self-serving selectivity of leviticus quoters, and was reduced to giggles by the statement that surely i had missed the part about where all the rules were optional, except for that one about gays.
of course. says so right here in leviticus 99:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God.
Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances,
as ye please or not, choose ye each which ones ye wish to keep:
I am the LORD your God, and it is all the same unto me.
Except for the one about faggots, that one I really mean.