Reasons for Abstinence

More Contraceptives Targeted At Teens

But Chastity Programs Gain Support in U.S. – Determined to reduce teen-age pregnancies, many governments promote contraceptives and abortive pills as the solution. Southern Wales is starting trials on the distribution of the “morning-after” pill to girls as young as 9 years old. [Independent, 14Feb01] The Bridgend area of south Wales has one of the highest teen-age pregnancy rates in Europe. Girls will now be able to request the morning-after pill, free of charge and without seeking parental permission. This announcement comes a month after the UK launched a national scheme whereby women over 16 can obtain morning-after pills, although they have to pay £20 ($29). Nurses in state schools in east Kent, Oxfordshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire are to dispense the pill to girls under the age of consent without their parents´ knowledge [Sunday Times 7Jan01]. Stuart Horner, professor of medical ethics at Central Lancashire University, is concerned not only about the ethics, but also the potential impact on health: “We are not talking about Smarties here, but significant doses of female hormone which can and does cause problems when it is administered. We do not know the long-term effects, particularly from regular use.”

In Canada, too, authorities have approved the distribution of the morning-after pill without the need for a prescription. Saskatchewan is among the first provinces in Canada to make the pill known as Plan B available without a prescription [Globe and Mail, 1 Feb01] Since December, women in British Columbia have been able to get Plan B with the written approval of a pharmacist, and some areas of Toronto are expected to make it available without a prescription on a limited, trial basis in June. Sales of Plan B, according to figures from IMS Health, an independent organization that tracks drug sales, have been slow, with only 665 Canadian prescriptions written for it from July to December, reported the Globe and Mail. That´s roughly one-third of the prescriptions written for Preven during its first six months on the market. Since it came on the market 16 months ago, Preven sales have been so poor that Shire Canada Inc. plans to discontinue it. In Australia, the family planning body in the state of Victoria wants to distribute among teen-agers a new implant that lasts for three years. The matchstick-shaped implant, Implanon, has been approved for use in Australia [The Age, 16Nov00] However, a senior medical officer with Family Planning Victoria, Dr. Kathleen McNamee, admitted that the disadvantage of the implant for teen-agers was that they would expose themselves to sexually transmitted infections if they failed to use a condom at the same time. The implant also caused irregular bleeding as a side effect. The national secretary of the Australian Family Association, Bill Muehlenberg, said the use of such contraceptives in teen-agers sent a confusing message about risks. Sexual abstinence was the safest option of all, he said.

Is contraception the answer? In spite of all these efforts to lower the teen-age pregnancy rates by means of contraceptives, often abortive in their action, not all officials are in agreement with this approach. For example, Trevor Stammers, tutor at St. George´s Hospital Medical School, London, published an article [British Medical Journal 16Dec00] in which he affirmed that not all officials are in agreement with this approach. For example, Trevor Stammers, tutor at St. George´s Hospital Medical School, London, published an article [British Medical Journal 16Dec00] in which he affirmed that not all officials are in agreement with this approach. For example, Trevor Stammers, tutor at St. George´s Hospital Medical School, London, published an article [British Medical Journal 16Dec00] in which he affirmed that “contraception as the cornerstone of sexual health promotion for adolescents has manifestly failed.” Stammers noted that in almost 15 years of general practice he had never seen a single case of unplanned pregnancy resulting from ignorance about or unavailability of contraception. In fact, studies show that up to 80% of unplanned pregnancies result from failed contraception. Data from 1975-91 show a positive correlation between increasing rates of use of condoms at first intercourse and higher rates of teen-age conceptions. He also pointed out that the younger the age of first intercourse, the greater the risks involved: “Early teen-age sex is associated with poor use of contraception as well as multiple sexual partners and increased rates of depression and suicide, and it is often part of a wider spectrum of harmful behavior that includes substance abuse, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption.” A better solution, he says, is the promotion of abstinence. Recent evidence from the United States confirms that abstinence programs are having a positive effect. A study [AP, 4Jan01] found A study [AP, 4Jan01] found A study [AP, 4Jan01] found teen-agers who publicly pledged to remain virgins until marriage delayed having sex about 18 months longer than other teens. Among those who formally promised to avoid unmarried sex, about 50% remained virgins until about age 20, said Peter Bearman, a Columbia University sociologist and co-author of a study in the American Journal of Sociology. “The average delay among pledgers is 18 months,” Bearman said. “That is significant. And that is a pure pledge effect.” Bearman and his co-author, Hannah Brueckner, a sociologist at Yale University, analyzed the effect of virginity pledges on the behavior of teens enrolled in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a federally funded survey of children in the seventh through 12th grades. Federal and state governments will pay $100 million during 2001 to teach chastity as the only realistic strategy for avoiding disease and pregnancy. That might signal to governments in other countries that condoms and morning-after pills are only Band-Aids and not a real solution. [London, 17Feb01; Zenit.org; ZE01021722]

According to one report, “the latest craze among French youth is abstinence…French sociologists have been caught completely off guard…This new passion for controlling their youthful passions is becoming so widespread among French young adults that some demographers are predicting an amazing 70% jump in marriages as early as 2001” [HLA Action News, Fall 2000]

“Sex won’t go away, so don’t rush to get there”

The recently released budget under the Bush administration allocates $80 million for abstinence education. And although any funding for abstinence is positive, the amount is not what was previously promised. In a 1999 campaign speech, President Bush said that he “wanted spending on abstinence programs to equal the amount spent on contraception programs.” But the $80 million in the budget proposal is no where near the $135 million that contraception programs received in 1999. In fact, the $50 million allocated for Title V and the $30 million for Special Projects of Regional and National Significance (SPRANS) under the budget proposal is a zero increase over what Congress has already approved for abstinence education. At “a speech in North Carolina, President Bush spoke about his desire to increase abstinence funding. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) says that they’ve met the President’s promise by continuing to fund Title V and SPRANS. And they that they will not put any additional funding toward abstinence education.

Heritage Fdn urges calls to “the White House to ask that the President’s promise be kept and the amount for abstinence education be raised to AT LEAST $135 million per year. Please call the following people and voice your support of abstinence education, either through direct contact or a voice mail.

Margaret La Montagne, Deputy Director of Domestic Policy , 202-456-5594 Tim Goeglein, White House Conservative Liaison, 202-456-2617 Mitch Daniels, Director of OMB, 202-395-4840″ [Heritage Foundation, 4/20/01; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report, 4/20/01]

While the report issued in
mid-April from the National Center for Health Statistics found that the birthrate for mothers age 15-19 declined 3 percent, to 49.6 births per 1,000 women in 1999 from the previous year, to a new low, a report just released by the National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy (NCPTP) highlights a sex education program (NOT an abstinence program) which according to The New York Times, costs about $4,000 per child per year. Remarkably, even at this cost, the report indicates that: “The program did not reduce sexual risk-taking among boys.” Not only did the program not help the boys, but according to Tamar Lewin of The New York Times, “the boys in the program actually were more likely to become fathers” than those in the control group.

Douglas Kirby, the lead author of Emerging Answers, reports that the programs that “work” best just happen to be the ones he designed. “The National Campaign wants to spend more money per student teaching sex than the general education allotment of some school districts,” added Dr. Diggs, “and for programs so weak that the strongest statement they can make is that ‘safe sex’ programs don’t increase sexual activity. Why doesn’t Dr. Kirby plainly state that his programs decrease unmarried teen pregnancy and STDs? Why not? Because his programs fail to accomplish this basic goal.”

NCPTP “Emerging Answers” Report Talking Points The report contains no dissenting voices Apparently the board has no member who unequivocally supports a consistent message of Abstinence-Until-Marriage (AUM) as the message for youth. Many board members are on record as opposing AUM. The NCPTP has only endorsed AUM since George W. Bush was elected president and indicated that this was his position. NCPTP has one standard for “success” – protected intercourse. Similar terminology employed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is found here – “what programs work.” The list of programs includes none that have decreased unmarried teenage pregnancy or STD rates. One highly touted program (Carrera) costs $4000 per student per year. This is a higher per student rate than the budget of many school districts.

This same program showed that boys in the program were MORE likely to become fathers than those not in the program. The NCPTP points to upcoming results from the national evaluation of Title V programs being performed by Mathematica. This evaluation has been roundly criticized by abstinence educators for a variety of compelling reasons (see letter from the Committee for Sound Evaluation at:http://www.abstinence.net/ArticleDetail.cfm?ArticleID=183