Insane - Unquestioning Heirarchical Auto

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.

  • Current Mood: irritated irritated
"Individuals who abstain from sexual activity are less likely to engage in other illicit behaviors, including alcohol and drugs."

Is it really phrased that way? "Other" illicit behaviors?
Re: Hm.
Yeah, they really phrase it that way. This is a group of religious wingnuts who want you to know that their kind, benevolent, loving god despises us.
Individuals who abstain from sexual activity are less likely to be depressed or to attempt suicide than individuals who do not.

Having sex makes you depressed? *confused*
I think they mean to say "being a cheap ho" makes you depressed. Of course, engaging in sexual activity makes one a cheap ho.
lol@the little baby quote. I notice that the Christians and neocons I know don't like to talk about the fact that women's bodies naturally miscarry or abort about 2/3 of all conceptions due to imperfections in the embryo's/fetus's early development.

I also jump to negative thoughts when I first learn someone is a Christian. It's one of my biggest prejudices. I just have to remind myself almost non-stop that not all Christians are fundies (like my dad) or neocons. Not all of them agree with the idiotic pro-life arguments and not all are bigoted and willfully ignorant. *sigh*
Re: Minor niggle
Argh! I always forget that it's plural. Sigh.

Hey, you're not dead! Any chance you'll be at OSCON this year?
Fantastic post, on a topic that regularly gets me riled up (probably my second most sensitive issue, and I don't have many!)

Mind if I link to this on my own journal?
I took an abstinence pledge during my early years of high school a time ago...


I had to learn everything about safe sex and learning it was OK TO HAVE SEX...from my friends during my late college years. When I became sexually active (which was later then most) I knew nothing. Why? Because I was told to simply not do it, I learned nothing about safe sex or anything to do with the topic. Thank god for my friends who took the time to answer my questions and educate me.

The abstinence issue causes more problems then people think.
This one I particularly love: 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.

Umm. I'm fairly certain my marriage would be emphatically less happy if we abstained from sexual activity. :-P

if someone tells me they're a Christian, my first instinct is to say things I wouldn't repeat in polite company

For me, this has been a very recent phenomenon. Not even the last four years, mainly the last two. And increasing. As a teenager I fancied myself INCREDIBLY tolerant. My philsophy was, "I'm a tree, I can bend". To each their own. Yadda yadda yadda.

In light of events spearheaded by the rabid mad-dog Christian Empire of late, I'm not even sorry to say that when I meet someone now who identifies as "Christian", I want to punch them in the face. This has, at least, to do with the fact that anybody who reallysincerely</strong> lives by and/or identifies with Christ's teachings would want to put themselves a million miles away from the modern institution that has sprung up around his name. If they're not smart enough to do that- or they simply agree with the undertakings of the Institution, I don't have time for them; only brutality.
The fact that the "source" used by the Alpha Center for their Morning After Pill claim appears to be an online store selling foetus-feet jewellery would be utterly hilarious if it weren't for the fact that I know some people are going to assume that it must be true :|.

I like this idea that by getting married you and your partner become physically, emotionally and financially stable enough to raise children overnight though. Whenever someone starts lecturing me on the subject of "no sex before marriage" I ask what, in their opinion, would be an acceptable method of family planning for a married couple who didn't wish to have children at this moment, given that hormonal contraception kills "tiny babies". So far I've yet to be graced with a sensible, practical answer or indeed any answer that doesn't involve something along the lines of "The Lord will provide" or "Children are God's blessing". It's interesting to note how many people backtrack on this issue or expose their hypocritical beliefs.
That point about family planning for married people is one I hadn't considered before. I think I'm going to steal it.
The thing you have to keep in mind about the "abstinence movement" is that it isn't about protecting kids. It's about protecting their parents from having to face the real world. That horribly uncomfortable fact that their kids are, once they reach adolescence, sexual beings.

Nothing is scarier. Because when your kids become sexual, it means you're losing the little children that you raised.

the christian left
hey there,
i just wanted to say that there are A LOT of us "Left Wing" Christians out here, who are very liberal, and who LOATHE being bundled into the RIGHT WING MOVEMENT by other "liberals" and pushed to the back of the bus by those "christians" in power in our country right now. (They choose to just ignore us I guess?)
As a Christian, I have traveled all over our country to do clinic defense in hopes to protect a womans Right to CHOOSE ~from SF to Wichita KS (religious coalition for reproductive choice/refuse and resist/aclu...),I am a feminist, a pinko, I am for individuality, free speech and thought, gay marriage, I am a political activist, mother, wife, rock n roller, GOTH, I am against ALL violence...ignorance...and just plain meaness...
I know that I am not the ONLY one out here!
So pretty please, refrain from making judgment calls on anyone according to their religion. I know it's really really super difficult to do...(imagine how difficult it is to be "related" to these right wingers in faith, and being commanded to love them! HA! at least you may have the luxury of not having to call them your sisters and brothers!! ;) )
Re: the christian left
I think most Christians are fine and are honest enough to admit that reasonable people can differ.

I really did mean that sentence. Most people I meet who later turn out to be Christians are normal, decent folk. It's just that there's a vocal minority out there who have kidnapped your god and threaten the rest of us with him. The vast majority of Christians are content to remain silent. I see no national "not in Christ's name" movement.

Of course, I haven't even talked about how my mom said I was going to hell and how kids in Texas schools used to throw rocks at me and taunt me because I wasn't a Christian (Texans are famed for being friendly, not tolerant.) Most of the religious-based suffering I've had to deal with has been at the hands of Christians, not some Muslim or Jewish bogeyman. Of course, that's because I live in a predominantly Christian country, so it's a numbers game.

It's not that I just assume that being Christian makes you bad -- people will find any excuse to be evil -- it's that the Christian left is evidently as placid as everyone else in this country. I'm glad to hear that you're raising your voice. If only you could convince your fellow Christians to raise their voices, too. Unfortunately, Bush was reelected. I'm not sanguine about the possibilities of people rejecting the evil of the Christian right any time soon.
Publius Ovidius Naso born 3/20 born in Sulmo, present-day Sulmona (43 B.C.). was Ovid's birthday yesterday...that's all!
xo, b
Hey. So, I don't know you, and you don't know me, and you seem to be quite the popular guy so maybe I'm stepping out of line (myself not being all that popular) by addressing you. Also, I'll admit that I haven't read any of the comments on this entry, but I really wanted to just say a few things:

  • I agree with you.
  • I'm a Christian.

So, I guess that pretty much wraps it up, but you know, seriously, what is the deal with fundamentalists? They have this screwed view of the world in which it isn't enough to disagree or to think someone is wrong privately, but feel this burning need to make others conform to their world view.

My position is that if someone is right, the results will show it. That's all that matters. I'll be the first to admit (only in certain company of course) that I haven't exactly kept the "abstinence before marriage" deal (okay, haven't kept it at all). But that doesn't mean that people who do follow that principal don't end up more sexually fulfilled and happier in their marriages, if they get married. I honestly don't know, and, well, will never know.

I have no regrets. Maybe life would be easier without the emotional baggage of sexual (and for that matter nonsexual) relationships that didn't work out, but who knows? And, really, who wants to live without experiencing things?

It comes down to balance, as so many things in life do: find what makes you happy, doesn't hurt others, doesn't hurt yourself (it takes a lot of honestly sometimes to figure out that last point).

Anyway. Happy trails, oh, and good job on that credit card bust. :-)
Thanks for your kind words. I appreciate that there are still some Christians out there who, like you, apparently aren't terribly interested in forcing me to follow your god. I wish there were more like you.
I reckon this fat bastard has been abstaiining from sex all his life.
Tell Pharmacy Chains to stop discriminating against women!
I just received this article from ( aka. ) and thought it was relevant to the current topic/rant.

Dear ActForChange Member,

It usually happens like this: a woman goes to her doctor and receives her birth control prescription, and then gets it filled at the pharmacy. Right? Wrong. Welcome to the anti-choice movement’s latest — and most insidious — attack on a woman’s right to choose.

Here’s what’s happening: In as many as 20 states, pharmacies are able to refuse to fill women’s prescriptions for contraception — including the morning-after pill.

It’s truly outrageous. When a woman and her doctor decide that a prescription for contraception is in the woman’s best interest, a third party has no right to override that decision. Pharmacies must ensure that their customers get their doctor-prescribed medication without delay or inconvenience.

Click here to tell our nation’s biggest pharmacies — Wal-Mart, CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Eckerd — not to stand between a woman and her physician.

We know that access to birth control prevents unintended pregnancies and reduces the need for abortion. So, it makes no sense that politicians and pharmacies are making it harder for women to get their pills instead of making them more accessible.

Get outraged at this intrusion into medical privacy, and join NARAL Pro-Choice America in ensuring that our pharmacies fill women’s birth control prescriptions.

Click here to learn more and sign the letter to pharmacies.

Nancy Keenan, President
NARAL Pro-Choice America