Ovid (publius_ovidius) wrote,

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Abstinence: Friend or Foe?

And we have yet another fascinating study showing the harmful effects of abstinence pledges. Seems that those who pledge abstinence are more likely to engage in risky activity such as anal sex and sex without condoms than other teens. Amusingly, folks from the Abstinence Clearinghouse -- surely a neutral group with no agenda -- accused the the Yale and Columbia University researchers of twisting the study's results to fit their ideological agenda.

Admittedly, since I don't have the study in front of me, I'm hard-pressed to evaluate whether or not the data support the facts, but I also confess that statistics is not my strong suit, so I quite possibly wouldn't be the best judge, either. On the other hand, I must confess a slight bias -- I am much more likely to trust some university researchers than a group which clearly has an agenda to push.

So, ignoring the he said/she said claims of each side regarding whether or not the researchers twisted their data, here are some "facts" that the Abstinence Council published in their press release as an attempt to rebut the findings:

  • Individuals who abstain from sexual activity are less likely to become pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted disease than individuals who do not.
  • Individuals who abstain from sexual activity are less likely to be depressed or to attempt suicide than individuals who do not.
  • Individuals who abstain from sexual activity are less likely to engage in other illicit behaviors, including alcohol and drugs.
  • Individuals who abstain from sexual activity are more likely to experience a happy marriage and to enjoy a higher standard of living than those individuals who do not.

Do you see it? Do you see it?! I'll give you a moment.

OK, before pointing out the extreme idiocy of those four points, I have to mention that it takes a total fucktard to list the first point (as the first point, no less!) as some sort of major coup in this ideological war. Aside from Dubyah, our peerless leader, I don't think anyone's going to be astonished to discover that people who don't have sex are less likely to become pregnant. Hello, morans (sic)! Whatcha thinkin' by tossin' that one out? Next up: people who don't eat are more likely to starve. (Hey, I just solved world hunger!)

But I digress. Let's look at all four of the points. Specifically, let's look at the first seven words: "Individuals who abstain from sexual activity are..."

Notice anything strange? How about there's a huge fucking difference between abstaining from sex and taking an abstinence pledge! Who the hell would be so stupid as to equate taking a pledge -- possibly due to pressure from peers, parents, or preachers -- with abstaining from a particular activity? Maybe the Abstinence Clearinghouse idiots think the starving masses in Ethiopia pledged not to eat food. Plenty of people probably abstain from sex for a variety of reasons other than a pledge. You have to take all of those people out of the equation, but the curious wording of the "facts" implies that the Abstinence folk didn't bother to consider that. Who would be that stupid -- or dishonest?

Yeah, who would they be? I don't mean to be a misogynistic pig, but the first thing I thought when I went to their Web site was "wow, that woman is hot!" You see, their background image is a hot chick staring at you with "come hither" eyes and some guy sulking in the background. I'm not quite sure what message they're trying to get across here.

As it turns out, they're closely associated with The Alpha Center. In fact, they appear to be one and the same as the Alpha Center's donation page makes clear (note the URL) and they share the same physical address (well, this page says they do. The Alpha Center chooses to list a different address). Of course, Leslee Unruh, the founder of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, doesn't hide the fact that she also founded the Alpha Center, but she also doesn't do anything to let people know that theology, not reason, drives her agenda.

Like the Abstinence Clearinghouse, the Alpha Center is never quite willing to discuss their religious bent, but like the Abstinence Clearinghouse, they're quite happy to hold a funhouse mirror up to the facts in order to bolster their case. The claim to offer Abortion Information, but this information is little more than propaganda. According to them, here's one of the ways that the morning after pill can end a pregnancy:

It can irritate the lining of the uterus so if the first and second actions fail, and the woman does become pregnant, the tiny baby will die before he or she can actually attach to the lining of the uterus. In other words ... her body rejects the baby and he or she will die. This is called a chemical abortion.

Tiny baby? No. An egg that has just been fertilized is not a baby. I am very torn on the subject of abortion, but this is foul. Reading further through the page, you notice that doctor's are only referred to as "abortionists." I'm surprised that they didn't refer to the nurses as henchmen.

So, uh, what's wrong with providing abstinence education as part of a reasonable effort to educate teens about the decisions they face instead of as the only effort to educate teens? Oh, I forgot: because your "jealous god" is famously intolerant and demands that you try to legislate morality and shove your beliefs down my throat.

That really frosts my muffin. I think most Christians are fine and are honest enough to admit that reasonable people can differ. Then there are the extremists who are trying to create an American Taliban. Because of them, while it doesn't occur to me to be suspicious of someone because they're a Jew or a Muslim, if someone tells me they're a Christian, my first instinct is to say things I wouldn't repeat in polite company. This is sad.

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