Saturday, January 11, 2014

Who Is To Blame For America's High Teen Pregnancy Rate?

One of claims the Christofascists put out constantly in their opposition to gay marriage rather than admit that the true motivation is motivated purely by religious based bigotry is to same that children need a mother and a father.  In the straight world, however, America is doing a pretty poor job of seeing that children are born to two parent families where parents are emotionally and financially ready for the responsibilities of parenthood.  As a column in the New York Times points out:
. . . “about half (51 percent) of the 6.6 million pregnancies in the United States each year (3.4 million) are unintended” and “the U.S. unintended pregnancy rate is significantly higher than the rate in many other developed countries.” Among teenagers in high-income countries, those in the United States have the highest rates of pregnancy . .
Who is to blame for this unfortunate and embarrassing reality?  I lay the blame squarely at the feet of the Christofascists and their puppets in the Republican Party who (i) oppose reality based sex education in our schools in favor of a fantasy based abstinence only approach, and (ii) seek to close down organizations like Planned Parenthood which provide contraception services and se education counseling, abortion services being only a tiny percentage of their activities.  Most other advanced nations have comprehensive sex education and grasp the reality that teens are going to have sex no matter what the godly folk want to believe in their alternate universe.  One need only look at data that shows that teen pregnancies are the highest in the Bible Belt (and that evangelical Christians have the highest divorce rates).  The Christofascusts' approach to sex education is as nonsensical as the advice the nuns gave my former wife in Catholic school in New York City: "if you have to sit in a boy's lap in a crowded car, put a copy of the New York phone book between you."  The column goes on to offer other solutions to this problem caused by puritanical views and America's sick definition of what it means to be a man:

This, even though young Americans are not necessarily the most sexually active youth of developed countries, according to a previous Guttmacher report. That report pointed out two important issues. First, “less contraceptive use and less use of hormonal methods are the primary reasons U.S. teenagers have the highest rates of pregnancy, childbearing and abortion.” Second, “more sexual partners, a higher prevalence of infection and, probably, less condom use contribute to higher teenage sexually transmitted disease rates in the United States.”

Most want fewer unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. And, most want fewer women to have to face the often wrenching decisions about what to do about such pregnancies.

There are some rather simple ways to move in this direction if we can agree to be less puritanical and more practical. We could, for example, begin teaching young people to value themselves in a way that contextualizes the initiation of sexual activity as a thing fully within their control and not so easily manipulated by peer and societal pressures. 

Furthermore, we must provide thorough and unimpeded sex education — in the home and at school — about how to engage in sex safely and responsibly. And, we must provide a full range of reproductive services — prophylactic and contraceptive as well as post-pregnancy. Here we are moving in the wrong direction. A Guttmacher report released last week found that more abortion restrictions were enacted in the last three years than in the previous decade.

Furthermore, much of the discussion about single-parent families and births outside of marriage is focused too heavily on young women and is simply a form of sex shaming that blames them for not being proper guardians of chastity. The shaming itself is a shame, and often inflames the pathology of patriarchy in our culture. 

We teach boys, overtly and implicitly, that sexual potency is a marker of masculinity and that empathy and emotional depth are purviews of a lesser sex. The ways we force boys to adhere to a perilously narrow reading of masculinity become a form of “oppression all dressed up as awesomeness,” as Lisa Wade, an Occidental College sociology professor, put it last month in Salon.

Boys are not taught to value themselves as fully human, but only as conquerors of everything — women, the workplace, the world. And men who are incapable of valuing their own humanity are incapable of fully valuing the humanity of a love interest.

We can address our societal problems, but to do so we must first address our societal issues. 
Will any of these common sense solutions be implemented?  Not if the Christofascists and their political whores in the GOP have anything to say about it.   Instead we will see more denial of objective reality and modern knowledge as these people cling to a Bronze Age world perpetuated by unthinking acceptance of the Bible.  Another informative article notes this: 
It's no coincidence that the states with the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections are also the same places where young people are taught to simply not have sex.

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