By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.
I recall conversing with a friend about six months into the George W. Bush administration after he took over from President Clinton. She said something to the effect of, "isn't it amazing how you can go politically backward in time by about 50 years in the space of six actual months?" She sure was right. I felt as if I was in a grinder during George W.'s eight years in office, transforming us into something archaic and pushing us back in time into some unknown era of paleontology. This latest report from the Centers for Disease Control confirms it. All that talk of creationism and abstinence-only education set us back behind our global competitors such as India and China in terms of young Americans' scientific education. It also set us back in terms of fighting unwed teen pregnancy and spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. As the Guardian reports:
Teenage pregnancies and syphilis have risen sharply among a generation of American school girls who were urged to avoid sex before marriage under George Bush's evangelically-driven education policy, according to a new report by the US's major public health body
...According to the CDC, birth rates among teenagers aged 15 or older had been in decline since 1991 but are up sharply in more than half of American states since 2005. The study also revealed that the number of teenage females with syphilis has risen by nearly half after a significant decrease while a two-decade fall in the gonorrhea infection rate is being reversed. The number of Aids cases in adolescent boys has nearly doubled.
While we're at it let's not forget something that is rarely addressed in mainstream media. The Christian Right is playing a part in increasing unwed motherhood. By urging single young women not to use birth control (because they shouldn't have sex until they're married) and not to have abortions if they become pregnant, they play a large but so-far unrecognized role in the dramatic and sad rise in unwed motherhood in the U.S. It's time we place blame for that squarely where it belongs. Sure there are lots of other factors: the media, culture, etc. But preaching abstinence until marriage along with stigmatizing abortion is also a factor and should be credited as such.
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By Bonnie Erbe