Sunday, April 15, 2007

Whose Morality Are We Talking About?

"Morality is of the highest importance - but for us, not for God." -- Albert Einstein

A long-awaited national study has concluded that abstinence-only sex education, a cornerstone of the Bush administration's social agenda, does not keep teenagers from having sex. Neither does it increase or decrease the likelihood that if they do have sex, they will use a condom.

... eight states that used to receive funding for abstinence programs have decided to stop doing so ...

... The federal government spends $176 million a year on abstinence-only education, and millions more are spent every year in state and local matching grants. Harry Wilson, a top official in the Department of Health and Human Services, said yesterday that the administration has no intention of changing funding priorities in light of the results.

"This study isn't rigorous enough to show whether or not [abstinence-only] education works," Wilson said.

Courtesy of Campus Progress

That last quote is a common and unfortunate response from the Right. There have been many studies on the efficacy of prayer on patients in hospitals. When they seems to indicate a positive effect, religious leaders are quick to say, "I told you so!". When there is no correlation shown, they are quick to say that God must have know there was a study going on or that there were flaws in the methodology.

For the case of abstinence-only, the responses are similar. I have even heard some suggest that the fact that the study shows that abstinence-only doesn't work is all the more reason to increase funding. They say that the reason it is not working is because it's not extensive enough. Sound familiar? Maybe the war will go better if we just send some more troops.

Abstinence-only is yet another case (along with the marriage amendment) that has nothing to do with helping people and everything to do with pushing some perversion of religious "morality". If they were truly concerned with our young people's health, they would encourage abstinence as part of a comprehensive sex education program that also included discussions of birth control and safe sex.

Pushing one's own morality to the exclusion of personal rights and practicality is also at the forefront of a controversy right in my back yard. The famous and nauseating publicity whore, our county sheriff Joe Arpaio, was recently rebuked by the State Appeals Court for his department's policy of not transporting prisoners for abortions:
An Arizona court of appeals recently struck down as unconstitutional a policy denying women in Maricopa County jails access to abortion care. The ACLU filed the lawsuit to defend the rights of women prisoners to obtain timely, safe, and legal abortions.

"... Sheriff Joe Arpaio cannot ignore the medical needs of prisoners simply because he does not agree with the decision to end a pregnancy," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. "A woman in jail has a right to make her own decision about whether to have a child."

At issue was an unwritten Maricopa County policy prohibiting jail officials from transporting a prisoner to obtain an abortion unless she first received a court order. The ACLU argued that the policy served no legitimate purpose because the jail regularly transports prisoners without a court order for all other necessary medical care, including prenatal care and childbirth. The jail also regularly transports prisoners for various non-medical reasons, including to visit terminally ill family members or attend relatives' funerals.

... Sheriff Arpaio has maintained this policy throughout his tenure, consistent with his well-publicized stance against abortion and his 'America's toughest sheriff' persona. In fact, Arpaio himself has admitted that under this policy, "The gal may have the baby by the time [the case] gets through the court system."

Are you telling me that it is better to force a baby to be born to an incarcerated mother, who is unable logistically or financially to care for it? The way in which so-called "moral" politicians and lawmen neuter the law of the land to fit with their own needs is reprehensible. You cannot arbitrarily decide for others which laws you feel should be upheld and which should not. You are making a decision for that woman and her child that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Are you going to take that child into your home and care for it, Joe? Do you really care about anything but getting your mug on national TV?

"Morality is the best of all devices for leading mankind by the nose." -- Friedrich Nietzsche


Scott said...

You are under the rule of THE Joe Arpaio?

My condolences.

My opinion on the school thing is probably pretty obvious, the problem of what type of sex ed to teach is ONLY an issue because we have public schools. Furthermore we're been under 11 straight years of efforts to further Federalize or school system, making the whole thing more monopolized.

Were school privatized there would be as many different school options for parents as there are options for channels on cable TV. They could send their kids to a school that teaches that abstinence is the only option and that the Earth is only 6000 years old, or they could send their kids to a school that doesn't have a sex education program and spends it's time actually teaching kids.

dbackdad said...

He-he. Yep, it gets pretty amusing out here. A lot of the times we think that he's just our little nut out in the desert but then we'll turn on FOX News or CNN or something and will see his face.

It's pretty much impossible to get him out of office too. He keeps getting elected to sizable majorities despite the fact that he doesn't really have the support of McCain or Kyl.

dbackdad said...

Just saw that JA had actually posted on the abstinence-only thing before me. Check out his discussion:

Shocking News: Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Has No Effect

Jeff said...

I'm sick of this abstinence crap. The right needs to some how get it into their heads that humans are sexual beings. The worst of this abstinence pushing is on Africa where millions upon millions are dying of AIDS and some how the religious right believes that teaching abstinence and refusing to give condoms will help the situation. Clearly abstinence education is useless and yet again one more study is proving it, hopefully the right will learn something this time around.

shrimplate said...

Abstinence only works for people who are celibate.

That's supposed to be ironic.

I think it's entirely plausible that Sheriff Joe really has no opinion regarding abortion and that he only established this policy to get publicity.

The chaplains where I work, the ones who also visit the jail, uniformly have very low opinions of that man.

Sadie Lou said...

You need to rent "The Education of Shelby Knox". It's a documentry on a girl raised by Christian parents and she, herself, is a Christian high school student. She has embraced abstinence for herself but in her hometown, she sees that her high school is ONLY teaching abstinence and the teen pregnancy rate is through the roof. She makes it her personal agenda to get sex ed taught in her school despite challenges. I think you'd enjoy it--I think your wife will appreciate it.

dbackdad said...

Shrimplate said, "... it's entirely plausible that Sheriff Joe really has no opinion regarding abortion and that he only established this policy to get publicity." -- Believe me, I know. I certainly wouldn't put it past him.

My best friend from college worked in the IT department at the Sheriff's department and had more than a few interesting stories of Sheriff Joe.

Sadie -- I keep meaning to rent that movie. I'm putting it into my Netflix queue right now. I've heard her on several interviews and she sounds very intelligent and interesting. Thanks for reminding me of that movie.

greatwhitebear said...

Funny (peculiar, not ha ha)thing is, if the "christian" right was only willing to meet someone in the middle once in a while, we might actually make huge strides in this area. Study after study has shown tht schools systems that teach both sex ed AND promote abstinance have had by far the most success in reducing pregnancy rates. And isn't that supposed to be the goal?