Thursday, January 27, 2011

Abstinence Ain't All of It

Bristol Palin came to Bryan, Texas this weekend to help a local charity raise funds. The name of the charity is the Central Texas Orphans' Mission Alliance (CTOMA). It ought to be the Central Texas Orphan Making Alliance, since one of its main tenets is that abstinence works as birth control.

Ms. Palin was quoted in the local paper saying, "Abstinence is not about morality, it's about reality, because it's the only thing that works every time. (The Eagle)" If abstinence is such a great method, why is it that the person who came to talk about it had not practiced it? Or if she had, how is it that it escaped anyone's notice that it failed?

In Texas, public school health curricula also preach abstinence only. Forget for a moment that this is someone's religious idea of how to handle sexuality, and concentrate on the results: Texas has the third highest teenage birth rate in the country. Most of these teenagers (65%) are from poor and minority backgrounds (Tomal; Kaiser). What does this say about how effective abstinence is?

Indeed, abstinence is perfect when practiced perfectly. The fact that priests, who as a group are highly dedicated to their profession, still have children says something about people's ability to practice it perfectly. When children, for whom delayed gratification is difficult anyway, are asked to act against their own natures, the failure rate soars.

Opponents of Roe v. Wade, which includes CTOMA, abhor abortion, but refuse to take the simple logical steps to obviate the need for elective abortions by giving women and girls access to safe, effective birth control. Europeans have a realistic attitude toward teenagers and sex, and their birth rate and the rates of abortion are a fraction of those in the United States.

Bristol Palin, who became a parent at 18, did not bring her two-year-old son, Tripp, with her, which points to a further problem with the abstinence-only theory. Bristol came to Texas alone because she had someone willing to help her.

Some parents' attitude is "You're pregnant? Sucks to be you!" Such people turn their backs on their children and grandchildren. Every year, pregnant children are beaten, turned out from their homes and left to their own devices to make their way in the world. Why is this an appropriate way to treat our children?

Many teenage moms don't get the kind of support Bristol Palin gets. They are alone, with no free or cheap babysitters, and no doting grandmothers to help. Boy-wonder sperm-donor may have disappeared, leaving mom, and her baby to whatever she can figure out on her own. Such girls may suffer crazy-making loneliness and isolation. The children born to such children catch a rotten break as well, especially if mom comes to see the child as the source of her loneliness and misery.

While abstinence is 100 per cent effective when practiced 100 per cent of the time, it is 100 per cent dependent on a person refusing to do what comes naturally. Furthermore, the people being asked to practice such monumental self-control are themselves children. Babies are the logical and natural outcome of the desire to belong to and possess another person that is hard-wired into the human race. The trouble is that the world hardly needs more of them.

Wise parents put their daughters on birth control when they express an interest in the opposite sex. This is not giving them permission as much as it is acknowledging their humanity. They may have a pang of guilt over it, but they are much less likely to have to raise a grandchild or watch their child's dreams suffer because of an ill-timed lapse in judgment. There are worse things than arriving to one's wedding night without one's virginity.

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About Me

I love my country, that is why I criticize its absurdities; I love my freedom, that is why I do it publicly.