Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Time for a gut-check

When 26% of the teenage girls in this country have a sexually transmitted disease, it's time to take stock of the idiotic "abstinence only" sex education that has gripped this country at the behest of the religious right wrong.

Good grief - teenagers are, to a one, idiots - and not ordinary run-of-the-mill idiots, either. They are idiots that have a sense of invulnerability. They think they are ten feet tall and bullet proof. Like I said - idiots. I was an idiot when I was a teenager, and so were you. So were my kids, and so were my parents, and so were yours. Idiocy is part of the teenage condition.

Combining that inherent teenage idiocy and invulnerability with abstinence only sex disinformation, you get a staggering STD rate, and an increase in teen pregnancies.

"This is pretty shocking," said Dr. Elizabeth Alderman, an adolescent medicine specialist at Montefiore Medical Center's Children's Hospital in New York.

"To talk about abstinence is not a bad thing," but teen girls — and boys too — need to be informed about how to protect themselves if they do have sex, Alderman said.

The overall STD rate among the 838 girls in the study was 26 percent, which translates to more than 3 million girls nationwide, researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.
The results of the study were reported on Tuesday by the CDC at a STD prevention conference in Chicago.

"Those numbers are certainly alarming," said sex education expert Nora Gelperin, who works with a teen-written Web site called She said they reflect "the sad state of sex education in our country."

"Sexuality is still a very taboo subject in our society," she said. "Teens tell us that they can't make decisions in the dark and that adults aren't properly preparing them to make responsible decisions."

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the study shows that "the national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure, and teenage girls are paying the real price."

And a steep price it is. The most common STD among the teenagers in the study was HPV, the virus that causes genital warts. HPV is a leading precursor to cervical cancer. The second most prevalent was Chlamydia, an asymptomatic disease caused by the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis. Because it is asymptomatic, the disease can go undetected for years, and lead to Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which is a leading cause of infertility and scarring that can lead to ectopic pregnancies, which can be fatal for the woman. Now, I realize that it isn't about compassion for the folks who push abstinence only. It isn't even grounded in reality. At their very core, it is about punishment. It is about divine retribution. The people who push this lunacy are the same ones who believe that women suffer in childbirth because one woman a long time ago ate a piece of forbidden fruit. (How the hell did these morons ever get taken seriously in the first place???)

It is time for a national gut-check on the folly of abstinence only sex-education.

It. Doesn't. Work.

Not only does it not work, it causes direct harm.