Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sex education reduces abortion rates

This doesn't seem terribly surprising, but Ed Brayton at Dispatches from the Culture Wars points out a New York Times op-ed piece that observes that the U.S. ties with Hungary for most abortions among OECD nations, even though Denmark has the most sexually active teenage girls. Denmark's teenage birthrate is 1/6 of the U.S.'s, and its abortion rate is 1/2 of the U.S.'s. The Netherlands has a teenage birthrate 1/7 of the U.S.'s, and an abortion rate 1/7 of the U.S.'s, and its teenagers start having sex on average two years after U.S. teens. The difference is that Denmark and the Netherlands have comprehensive sex education, while the U.S. has been pushing abstinence-only education that doesn't work, and about half of U.S. states now reject federal funding for abstinence-only sex education for that reason.

1 comment:

Hume's Ghost said...

Jimmy Carter raised this point 3 years or so ago in Our Endangered Values. I like quoting the NYT Book Review by Gary Wills since Carter kind of punctures the reality that the RR like's to portray of itself having a monopoly on knowing what the "Christian" thing to do is:

Carter is opposed to abortion, as what he calls a tragedy "brought about by a combination of human errors." But the "pro-life" forces compound rather than reduce the errors. The most common abortions, and the most common reasons cited for undergoing them, are caused by economic pressure compounded by ignorance.

Yet the anti-life movement that calls itself pro-life protects ignorance by opposing family planning, sex education, and informed use of contraceptives, tactics that not only increase the likelihood of abortion but tragedies like AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The rigid system of the "pro-life" movement makes poverty harsher as well, with low minimum wages, opposition to maternity leaves, and lack of health services and insurance. In combination, these policies make ideal conditions for promoting abortion, as one can see from the contrast with countries that do have sex education and medical insurance. Carter writes:

"Canadian and European young people are about equally active sexually, but, deprived of proper sex education, American girls are five times as likely to have a baby as French girls, seven times as likely to have an abortion, and seventy times as likely to have gonorrhea as girls in the Netherlands. Also, the incidence of HIV/ AIDS among American teenagers is five times that of the same age group in Germany.... It has long been known that there are fewer abortions in nations where prospective mothers have access to contraceptives, the assurance that they and their babies will have good health care, and at least enough income to meet their basic needs"