Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More dumb abstinence stuff

The administration also has budgeted another $241.5 million for abstinence-only programs in 2007. Kirby compared California and Texas, two states he said were similarly populous and were home to many Hispanics, a group whose teen pregnancy rates are high.

"California took a very progressive approach," he said. "Texas pushed abstinence and made it a little more difficult for teens to receive contraceptives. Pregnancy did go down between 1991 and 2004, but Texas had the second-lowest decline of all states, 19 percent. California had the second-greatest decrease, 46 percent.

"What's really sad is that Bush is trying to take some of the policies that didn't work in Texas and implement them nationwide."


Claire Brindis, a professor of pediatrics and health policy at UCSF ... believes comprehensive sex education should be required, rather than merely permitted, by the state.

"Because there are so many myths out there," Brindis said, and teens grow up in a culture dense with sexualized mass media.

"One myth I've heard is that a person can't get pregnant the first time, and by the way, 20 percent of teens do. I've heard that if your boyfriend drinks Mountain Dew you won't get pregnant, or if you have sex standing up. Or if you sit on a cold sidewalk after you have sex -- I heard that in Southern California.

"I see in my work how early childbearing is both a result of poverty and how it contributes to an endless cycle of poverty. There's a lot of people who believe knowledge is dangerous, that if you give kids more information about condoms they'll go out and have sex.

"But isn't it better," Brindis asked, "to give young people and our large immigrant population the tools to plan? I can't think of anything more moral."

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