Thursday, February 19, 2009
Bristol Palin says abstinence-only education is "not realistic"
Bristol Palin, eighteen-year-old daughter of staunchly anti-choice Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, surprised many in a recent interview with Fox News. Bristol, mother to newborn son Tripp, said abstinence is the best solution for teens to avoid pregnancy, but that it is "not realistic at all."
Half of all American teenagers have sex. Abstinence should be a part of all sex education curriculum, but abstinence-only education simply doesn't work. Teaching comprehensive sex education programs and making birth control accessible are key to protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)and preventing unplanned pregnancies. Injecting politics into sex education isn't going to keep teenagers safe and informed. If teens don't learn in school about safe sex, they will simply pick up incorrect information from their friends or the media.
Currently, Alaska has no mandate for sex education curriculum in public schools, but received $752,346 in abstinence-only funding in 2007. Also, Alaska is one of twenty-six states with increased teen pregnancy rates according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Hmmm, just a coincidence? Absolutely not.
Even more alarming is the fact that Alaska is not alone. For the first time in 15 years, 2005 to 2006 saw an increase in national teen pregnancy rates according to the Centers for Disease Control. Astonishingly, Maryland has the 13th highest teenage pregnancy rate of any state. Anti-choice politicians, like Sarah Palin, are continually trying to chip away at a woman's right to make decisions about her own body by restricting access to birth control, supporting abstinence only education, and opposing emergency contraception. But the message from Bristol Palin is clear. Preaching abstinence-only to teenagers doesn't stop them from having sex. Check out the full story and watch the interview on CnnPolitics.com.