The abstinence movement: funding ignorance

The BBC offers us a look at the abstinence movement in the US (never mind the Britney Spears bit... she's just a backdrop for the article).

Informing teenagers about abstinence and encouraging it is one thing, but the anti-contraception message these fanatics are peddling is something else:
Under the terms of the multi-million-dollar fund which have been made available under President Bush for abstinence education, schools and groups can only claim federal money for sex education programmes if the classes have as their "exclusive purpose" the promotion of abstinence.

They must make clear that sexual activity outside of marriage is harmful, both mentally and physically. If contraception is mentioned, it must only be in the context of its fallibility.

Dan Richey, state coordinator of the Louisiana Governor's Program on Abstinence, believes that telling young people about condoms and other forms of contraception increases sexual activity, and consequently increases the rate of teenage pregnancy and the transmission of sexual diseases.

"Many adults seem to think that if the kids are using contraception then everything's OK. But contraception does not necessarily prevent pregnancy, nor does it stop the contraction of diseases. Everyone thinks condoms are effective - but they are not," he says.
Yes, it's always dangerous when people have too much information on their hands. All teenagers need to know is that when they get horny, that's Satan at work. Biology? Never heard of it.

It seems that Richey has confused "effectiveness" and "infallibity". Are condoms "not effective" because one in 1,000 breaks? Someone needs to tell Richey that only the pope is infallible.

As is usually the case with ideologically motivated true believers, facts mean little:
Researchers at the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health think-tank, found in their comparison of teenage pregnancy rates between five developed countries that there was no relation between the amount of sexual activity and frequency of pregnancies.

Young people in Sweden, which had the lowest rate of teenage pregnancy, are more sexually active than their US counterparts, but the rate of teenage pregnancy is nearly four times lower.
Maybe the teenagers in Sweden just pray harder that they won't become pregnant when they have sex. Or, if Dan Richey is correct, maybe Louisiana condoms are just really bad.

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