NOW can we give up abstinence-only programs?

You might have seen the headlines this week that read “Rise in Teen Pregnancy Rates.” Of course what’s missing from that title is the fact that these are not real-time figures they’re talking about. The 3% rise in teen pregnancies among 15-to-19-year-olds increased between 2005 and 2006 — the first jump since 1990. We’re sure there are multiple causes for the jump, but you cannot discount the impact of 1.5 billion dollars worth of abstinence-only programs pushed over the past 10 years, especially during the two Bush terms — programs that have been proven time and again not to work. This should be a wake-up call to Americans to accept the fact that many post-pubescent teens are going to have sex — nature doesn’t care about social mores or religious restrictions or the official age of adulthood, it just wants bodies that are physically mature enough to get it on. And that’s apparently a powerful force that cannot be swayed by even the most devout, abstinence-loving, anti-choice families around (read: the Palins). Let’s take a tip from the Dutch, like the British seem to be trying to do, and embrace comprehensive sex education as a basic part of a kid’s emotional and intellectual development. Not only do the Netherlands have great sex ed, they also have progressive attitudes about sex, free access to contraceptives, and legal abortion. And what does that get them? Not fire in the streets or mass hysteria or dogs and cats living together, but some of the lowest rates of teen pregnancy, STD-transmission and abortion in the world! Hello? America, do the math!

photo by Marina(im.back)