The New York Times has an op-ed attack piece on abstinence-only sex ed today by an Amanda Robb. Ms. Robb is the niece of Dr. Bart Slepian, an abortionist murdered in his home in 1998. James Kopp, an anti-abortion activist, was convicted but serious questions remain about whether he is in fact the true culprit. Certainly, the mainstream pro-Life movement does not condone murder and we believe that prayers and peaceful activism are what's needed to end the evils of abortion, not further violence. Ms. Robb is understandably hurt and angry about her uncle's murder, and she has apparently decided to vent her bitterness by attacking proponents of traditional sexual morality.
Ms. Robb's NYT op-ed piece laments President Bush's recent veto of the bill that would expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program. She notes that the Federal government spends $200 million per year funding abstinence-only sex ed programs. By her calculation, if that money were redirected towards funding S-CHIP, it would be enough to cover 150,000 children annually. However, one could also fund S-CHIP by cutting any number of different programs. For example:
- The $25 *BILLION* the Federal government spends on farm subsidies every year, two-thirds of which go to the wealthiest 10% of agribusinesses.
- The $10.8 *BILLION* spent on defense "pork" projects.
- The $2 *BILLION* spent subsidizing healthcare to the wealthiest 5% of senior citizens to the same extent as other seniors.
She criticizes them as "shame-provoking" (is that a bad thing?), "ineffective", and "dangerous". She references the one highly-publicized but also problematic Mathematica study critical of abstinence-only sex ed and ignores 30 others that demonstrated positive findings. A summary of some of these can be found here.
Ms. Robb attributes the decline in teen pregnancy rates over the past decade as due mainly to increased contraceptive use, while in actuality two-thirds of it is due to less sexual activity among unmarried teen girls.
She notes that diagnoses of chlamydia and gonorrhea in teens are on the rise. However, since fewer teens are sexually active and those that are have fewer partners on average, this is likely due to a greater percentage of cases being diagnosed and treated. Simple urine tests are now in widespread use rather than the traditional cervical swab requiring a pelvic exam.
Ms. Robb also alleges that abstinence-only programs teach "patently false" information about contraceptive failure rates. According to the pro-contraceptive organization the Guttmacher Institute, the condom has a typical failure rate of 15%. For teens, the typical failure rate is nearly 19%. How, then, can she assert that "the chances of getting pregnant with a condom are 1 in 6" is untrue? She may very well want it to be untrue, but that doesn't change the numbers.
Shame on the New York Times for yet again printing such a biased piece of rubbish!