National Abstinence Education Association Throws Bristol Palin Under the Bus

During the presidential campaign, the far right glorified Bristol Palin as a teen who got pregnant and "chose life." 

Now that she has dared to use her own voice to speak out about the challenges of early motherhood, the fact that "abstinence-only-until-marriage" is unrealistic, and the need for real sex ed, they are throwing her under the bus.

These guys are serious about their fundamentalist ideologies.

"The Cold Hard Facts Melt Myth That Abstinence Is Unrealistic" is the title of a statement by the National Abstinence Education Assocation (NAEA) responding to Bristol Palin’s interview on Fox with Greta Van Susteren. 

Which left me wondering: Which cold hard facts are they talking about? 

The statement says:

During Sarah Palin’s recent vice- presidential bid, her unmarried teen daughter Bristol’s pregnancy became a hot campaign topic. As a follow-up report on this compelling human interest story, Fox News Commentator Greta van Susteren, asked Bristol Palin about abstinence. Bristol shared her view that “abstinence is….not realistic at all”. It is suspect that media, seemingly devoted to science based research, is quick to claim Bristol Palin’s experience as proof positive that abstinence education for all teens should end.


First, let’s put aside the very generous description of Fox as "media seemingly devoted to science-based research."  It is too distracting.

The main point: I have not heard anyone, anywhere, suggest that "abstinence education for all teens should end."  Rather, many have said before me,  and I have argued here (indeed just this week) that federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage education should end.

As soon as possible.

In making this statement, I am safely within the majority of the public health and advocacy communities and of U.S. public opinon

The difference is about teaching only abstinence (which, combined with misleading information about sex, birth control, sexual identity, and the roles of women is what members of NAEA do) or using accurate information to encourage real outcomes of abstinence and sexual delay while also equipping teens with safer sex skills for when they do become sexually active.  The former have failed, the latter work.  I won’t reiterate here all the evidence, because it is extensively laid out, documented and linked in my earlier blog, and on the websites of well-respected organizations such as SIECUS, Advocates for Youth, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Guttmacher Institute and many others.

But NAEA does what they and other groups who focus more on ideology than evidence do best: They twist words and facts to fit their fantasies.

First they claim the following:

And a growing body of research shows that well-executed abstinence education programs are demonstrating impressive results. 

Huh?  Request to folks at NAEA: References please!  Since they craftily only say part of what they mean, because their members all run abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, they confuse the debate and mislead by not referring to the evidence examining the very programs they support.  Again, see this week’s blog post for a wealth of independent evidence that refutes this statement.

The NAEA statement goes on to say:

While Bristol’s story makes for an interesting human-interest story, her comment should not be the basis to form public policy on the complex issue of teen sex especially if we look at the facts regarding the teen sexual activity.  According to the CDC, the percentage of teens that have chosen not to have sex has risen from 45.9% in 1991 to 52.2% in 2007. Incredibly, this success is in the midst of an increasingly sexualized culture that paints premarital, casual teen sex as exciting, without consequence, and expected behavior. 
The fact is most teens are abstinent.   There are millions of teens for which abstinence is not only realistic, but is their chosen lifestyle. An honest look at the statistics confirms this fact.

Oh…I see.  I guess it was ok that "Bristol’s story" be used to promote public policy when she made the choice to keep her baby, a choice that worked for her but that instantly made her the poster child for the political ambitions of her mother and of the far right in the abortion debate.  In fact her mother couldn’t resist interrupting the Fox interview to "set the record straight" on what Bristol really meant.  (Now that Bristol’s a mom can she speak for herself??)  I am sure Bristol’s honesty doesn’t help her mother’s drive to be queen of the ultra-right in 2012.  I imagine public appearances for Bristol may be few and far between in the near future.  In fact, Bristol may have been sent to her room indefinitely.

Indeed, NAEA gives another zinger to Bristol by saying:

The cold hard fact coming out of Alaska is that not all teens choose
abstinence but we should be encouraged by the fact that the majority

Whoa.  Harsh.  Bristol clearly has lost friends.  She is no longer the girl who "made a mistake and made the choice for life," but an "unmarried teen" who couldn’t keep her clothes on.  Like I said yesterday, this girl has guts.  And she will need them.

But back to NAEA’s assertion that "most teens are abstinent."  Here again, they engage in the usual pretzel-twisting of words and concepts. 

The question is: which teens, at what age?

It is true that age at first sexual intercourse has increased. According to data compiled from various sources by the Guttmacher
Institute, teens are indeed waiting longer to have sex than they did in the
past.  Some
13% of females and 15% of males aged 15-19 in 2002 had had sex before
age 15, compared with 19% and 21%, respectively, in 1995.

This is a very good thing.

But it is not true that "most teens are abstinent" unless you are talking only about teens ages 16 and under.

Let’s look at the facts:

Older teens are much more likely to be sexually active.  Again, according to Guttmacher:

  • Nearly half (46%) of all 15-19-year-olds in the United States have had sex at least once.
  • By the time they reach age 19, seven in 10 teens have engaged in sexual intercourse.

Because most young people have sex for the first time at about age 17, but do
not marry until their middle or late 20s
, young adults
are likely to be sexually active before marrying for nearly a decade.  This means they need protection from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.  Some may never marry; some are not legally able.

Some may choose to be abstinent until marriage.  That is their right and their prerogative.  Others will choose to engage in sexual activity.  

Should we just throw them all under the bus?

Or do we equip them early on with good negotiating skills, medically accurate information, and access to birth control (including condoms) that can prevent either one or both of unintended pregnancy and infection.  

And let’s be real here folks: people use contraception within marriage to delay, space or prevent pregnancy, and under many circumstances may need to prevent infections for life.  So we are not talking about skills for teens.  We are talking about skills for people having sex throughout their lifetime.  These are not some other species of being.  These people are all of us.  You and me, our kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, cousins, foster children, god-children.  Everyone.

More actual facts:

•A sexually active teen who does not use contraceptives has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within a year.

•The condom is the most common contraceptive method used at first intercourse; it was used by 66% of sexually experienced females and 71% of males.

•Nearly all sexually active females (98% in 2002) have used at least one method of birth control. The most common methods used are the condom (used at least once by 94%) and the pill (used at least once by 61%).

•At most recent sex, 83% of teen females and 91% of teen males used
contraceptives. These proportions represent a marked improvement since
1995, when only 71% of teen females and 82% of teen males had used a
contraceptive method at last sex.

So we know that given the right information and training, the majority of sexually active teens and young adults who do engage in sex will make good judgements about protecting themselves.  Our job is to encourage protective behavior when they do engage in sex, not to stigmatize protection.

Yet, to recieve federal funding under current program definitions, according to the ACLU:

Abstinence-only programs must have the
"exclusive purpose" of teaching the benefits of abstinence. They may
not advocate contraceptive use or teach contraceptive methods except to
emphasize their failure rates.

Thus, recipients of federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funds
operate under a gag rule that censors vitally needed information.
Grantees are forced to omit any mention of topics such as
contraception, abortion and AIDS or to present them in an incomplete
and therefore inaccurate fashion.

Indeed, many of them use fear-based tactics to drive their message across.  The NAEA site proudly features a link to this commentary by a conservative Idaho group:

In many states, including Idaho, sex outside marriage is against the
law, and that includes consensual sex between teenagers. Sex outside
marriage, whether "fornication" or "adultery" from a legal standpoint,
is punishable by both a fine and imprisonment.

Yet, educating teens about the legal risks they run if they become
sexually active before marriage is a topic that is rarely if ever
discussed in sex ed classes.

I’m guessing educators show less restraint in making students aware of
the legal risks of drunk driving or possession of drugs, but common
sense dictates that making young adults aware that their behavior is
not only dangerous but also illegal ought to be a part of a thorough

Says a former Georgia district attorney, "We do a disgraceful job of
educating kids about the very real consequences that they face." He
will soon publish a book entitled, "Ignorance Is No Defense: A
Teenagers Guide to Georgia Law."

One educator in Sugar Land, Texas brings a police officer in to teach a
class on sex and the law to her high schoolers, and says it is probably
her most popular class. "The kids are really engaged and ask a lot of
questions," she says. "And most of them are completely amazed that they
could actually be arrested."

Sex SWAT teams?  Do they need a warrant?

But now comes the real issue.  NAEA exists in large part to secure federal funding for disproven programs.  And their financial survival depends in large part on membership dues from state and local organizations receiving federal funds to carry out their work.  In the FAQ section of their website, NAEA states:

Q: Can our organization join NAEA since we have lobbying restrictions as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization?

Yes. Public charities may use up to 20 percent of their budgets for
lobbying purposes. However, since the NAEA membership fee is
significantly less than 20 percent of most organizational funds, your
membership fee will fall well within the legal guidelines for nonprofit

Q: Can we use federal grant funds to join the NAEA?

Federal Circular A-122 permits grant funds to be used to join
professional associations such as NAEA. NAEA estimates that 50% of
membership dues will be used for lobbying activities; however no
federal funds can be used for lobbying. Therefore, 50% (or $75) of an
organizational membership fee should come from non federal grant funds.
If this is not possible, please contact NAEA and your dues will be
segregated from any lobbying expenditures.

So NAEA is feeding at a trough filled until now by your taxpayer dollars. NAEA clearly is afraid that given the overwhelming evidence against the kinds
of programs for which they receive federal funding, the Democratic
White House and Congress, and a national mood for eliminating wasteful
spending, it may be faced with a loss of funds. 

Their statement says that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs:

Only receives about $175 million a year – an amount that is considered mere pocket change by members of Congress,who hold our purse strings.

Pocket change?  Does John Boehner agree?  He and his colleagues got their knickers in a twist about the non-existent $200 million for family planning in the stimulus.  What does he say about $175 million for programs that have been completely discredited?

Finally, NAEA includes a "call to arms" among adherents of abstinence-only-until-marriage, asking members to participate in the 2009 "Abstinence Day on the Hill."

Most Members of Congress base their views of abstinence education around misinformation they read in the media or hear from special interest groups opposed to abstinence. They rarely see or hear from abstinence providers or youth who have benefited from the approach. This year, every state must be represented to insure that every Member of Congress hears the compelling story of youth who have chosen to be abstinent.

Which is why I reiterate: You need to take action now to ensure that Congress does the right thing.  We just had an election in which the candidate who won–President Obama–promised to base policy and funding on evidence, and to get rid of programs that don’t work.  Everyone of us who believes that teens deserve non-biased, medically accurate information need to mobilize to make sure Congress hears our collective voice.

Take action: See Advocates for Youth
here, and SIECUS here.

Pass it on.  

And send Bristol good thoughts.  It is getting awfully cold in Alaska. 


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  • invalid-0

    Was there ever any doubt this was coming?

    A culture that both demands that girls remain virgins until marriage and that they serve as sexual playthings for men inevitably creates some mechanism to deal with the paradox. A very typical one is to divide women into the “good”, “marriageable”, “respectable” women whose well-being society is supposed to care about and the disposable “whores” that men can use and throw away. Villifying the “disposables” also helps the rest of society to distance themselves from the situation and pretend that their sisters, wives and daughters could never possibly end up among them.

    When a girl from a well-connected, powerful, monied, “respectable” family finds herself in trouble, something has to give somewhere. The pregnancy either has to be hidden, or quietly aborted, or a hasty marriage arranged. Since Bristol has failed to do any of the above, is it any wonder that her speaking truths the Right would rather ignore has earned her “disposable” status among them?

  • jodi-jacobson

    No doubt in my mind for all the reasons that you articulate.

    But of course this is the evidence, and that is what we report.

    But I can’t underscore strongly enough that it is up to us not to allow Congress to get away with “accommodating” the far right by funding programs that do not work.

    I hope you will take action and encourage others to do the same.

    With all best wishes, Jodi

  • invalid-0

    Hurrah for Bristol. There comes a time in everyone’s life when parents should listen to their children, and this is one of them. Aaron Epstein

  • invalid-0

    Who is accomodating whom, Jodi? Plannned Parenthood and company makes millions every year – they are a for-profit organization which needs girls to be sexually active with or without protection. On top of that they receive tax dollars to operate illegally in many cases. It takes college students going under cover in these clinice for the real truth to come out. So please don’t hold up Planned Parenthood, and their right arm, the Gutmacher Institute, as morally respecatable.

    Bristol Palin is right only in keeping her baby alive, not aborting it. How do we know that she did not intentionally get pregnant? That’s the problem with you all, not that she’s sexually active so much as she KEPT the baby. Whether or not having high expectations for teens is legitimate or not: we expect them not to drink and drive, not to over eat, not to smoke, not to cheat – ever. Those promoting healthy marriages and relationships have thousands of reports available that show the benefits of not NEVER but BEST for all if saved for marriage. You really think that you can promote and protect a promiscuous lifestlyle before marriage and then just STOP it once you get married? That’s a contradiction. And 87% of Americans hope to be married so we know that we are talking in terms that the majority understands.

  • invalid-0

    The only difference between a boy and a girl is a chromosome, not respectability or responsibility. The latter differences are indeed cultural artifact of our own making. All parents and educational programs should stress equal blame and shame for unplanned pregnancies and STDs from birth. The media should reinforce this by focusing on and interviewing unwed boy/male parents instead of picking on just the Nadyas and Bristols half of the equation.

  • invalid-0

    Bristol Palin needs to speak for herself. Simply because she does not have the self-discipline, self-control, and fortitude to practice abstinence (if she was ever really trying to practice it, at all) does not make it absolutely unrealistic. It just makes it unrealistic for her. I have two teen-age nieces who are successfully practicing abstinence and there are many other teen-age girls and young women who successfully pracitce abstinence every day. It’s not easy and it certainly may not be common in this day and age, but it is not unrealistic. Sarah Palin should correct her daughter.

  • harry834

    There is a difference between pre-marital sex and "promiscuity", the latter term is far vaguer.

    Some differing definitions for "promiscuity":

    1.) Cheating on your current partner/spouse. (Most of us would agree cheating is wrong)

    2.) Having lots of sex (But how much sex is "lots of sex")

    3.) Having lots of casual sex (not the same as definition 2. You can have lots of pre-marital sex with one or two partners, and not at the same time (could be years between each partner))

    ** What is "casual sex"?

    Is it unprotected sex? Is it pre-marital? Is it sex for any reason other than procreation (ie sex for pleasure, which is why most of us seek sex in the first place!) Is it sex in a monogamous relationship, but having fun sex positions and dirty talk that would make the church condemn if they knew (good thing the church isn’t allowed in our bedrooms)

    All the above scenarios are different, but all could be considered "casual sex" or "promiscuity". The former term might be clearer, but these two words are tossed around by social conservatives alot. 

    Did Ann Coulter wait till marriage? Did the Republican men in Congress? Did George Bush (not according to that movie "W")? Did Republican governor Arnold Schwartzennegger? Did their wives? And would they tell you the real answer?

    Maybe it’s time we stopped the "don’t ask, don’t tell" mentality and accept that people have sex without wedding rings (in frequencies we will debate forever). Perhaps its time we accept science that its the condom, contraception that protects rather than the wedding ring.

    Barck Obama and Joe Biden had HIV tests. Sexual responsibility is possible and takes the "self-control", and "fortitude" that both sides will admire



    Also, the fact that 87% of Americans want to be married does not mean that those people are abstaining till marriage.

  • invalid-0


    Mr. Obama also admitted to using drugs – are we supposed to think that he did that responsibly, too? No, that wouldn’t make sense.

    My point is to be consistent with youth in the messages that we teach and preach (the smoking campaigns are strongly directive no matter what the age) whether its drugs, alcohol, eating, or sex. If we teach the first three areas with a high bar in mind we should also do the same with sex because the outcomes prove best. Will some kids drink and do drugs, over eat, cheat on test, do drugs, and have sex anyway? Yes, but it still up to the adults not to cave, but teach and expect the best behavior. To your other rambling. . . research shows that the more partners one has before marriage, the harder it is to be faithful once you actually say “I Do.” We owe it to our youth to let them know what the consequences of early sexual debut are, with or without the condomn which cannot protect the heart even if does offer some risk reduction. There is still risk involved in the behavior. I think it is hard for people to take a stand on this because often their own marriages and relationships are not what they want them to be, but for the sake of our children, we have to give them the tools to be the most successful.

  • therealistmom

    A U.S. registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit charity, to be exact. Because of the nature of their work the organization has to be particularly careful about making their accounting available to the public lest minsinformed people like you try and make patently bs claims, like they "need" poor innocent teen girls to "screw around" so they make money, or that they push abortions to make a profit.

     What the organization DOES do is provide sliding fee or free health care services for women, (and men, in the case of things like testing for STIs), educate about family planning methods and STIs, empowering young women to make educated choices about their sexuality (which includes abstinance for those for who choose it), and try to get education out into the community. A large number of people who use PP’s services are married women with lower incomes who need access to gynocological services and birth control.  So aside from the fact that a piece of paper doesn’t magically make it ok for two people to engage in sex (a perfectly natural part of life that people will engage in no matter what), educate yourself on what PP is before going off on libelous rants.

  • invalid-0

    Calm down, now. Some of us are trying to have an unemotional, intelligent discussion here. Why is it when someone exposes the achilles heal, he/she is labeled as uneducated and libelous? If PP is so bent on empowering women, why do they charge for their services? True, your beloved PP is a legal non profit, er, for profit, but they are as unethical as the day is long and the new powers that be are greasing the gravy train tracks which are pointed right to PP coffers. Welcome to Obamerica where rewarding America’s biggest ethical offenders with federal money is the new chique. (bank bail out, auto bailout, mortgage bailout – where will it end?). Since 1987, the D party has helped Planned Parenthood rake in more than $3.2 billion taxpayer dollars. Now, the President’s reversal of the Mexico City policy and his promotion of “family planning” programs will ensure that they get millions more.

    Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood, much like Wall Street, has been implicated in its share of taxpayer abuses, which include in 2008 alone: at least $180 million of alleged fraud in California and Florida; statutory rape cover-ups in Indiana, North Carolina, and Illinois; documented racism in at least seven state branches; and medical deficiencies that led to the closing of California and New Jersey clinics. The federal government not only ignores these exploits but is complicit in funding them. And this is the crowd you think should be giving our youth information?

    • invalid-0

      Everything you said about PP in your hysterical rant was a bald-faced lie, and you (and everybody else on this blog) KNOW this! YOU are the one that needs to “calm down”!

    • invalid-0

      No matter how many lies are spread about PP they will continue to get a few hundred dollars of MY money- voluntarily- every year because I feel that women NEED their services.
      That will never change.
      Thanks for the crazed lunatic ranting though after telling everyone else that you’re the only one having a “sane rational discussion”.
      I needed the laugh today.

  • invalid-0

    Ann Coulter is married?

    I was following the thread and, compared to the usual K-3 internet conversation, it is pretty rational . . . and then I was thrown off.

    I don’t think Ann Coulter is married.

    Although I’m usually much more on point, I’m stuck on this one.

    I understand abstinence before marriage and abstinence after marriage, now I have insight into abstinence during marriage. send me the RFP.

  • invalid-0

    So far, everyone has been commenting on GIRLS remaining abstinent. Do we have no standards for BOYS? I believe our culture is rather convinced that girls ‘can’ and ‘should’ abstain from sex, not masturbate or watch porn, but that ‘boys will be boys’ and thus are expected to engage in all of these things. Regardless of all this stuff on Planned Parenthood and fraud and such, everyone here seems to be implicitly supporting a double standard, at least by their words. Let’s start including guys in the equation when we talk about people waiting until marriage – otherwise, you’re following an age old, sexist double-standard.

  • therealistmom

    … they have to keep the place running, and donations only won’t cover the expenses involved in providing medical care. You acuse me of irrationality and being emotional, (you’re obviously male with that silly condescension towards a poor lil’ female like me who can’t POSSIBLY know what I’m speaking about) yet you pull out the silliness invoked by right-wing conservatives "Obamamerica! Where will it end?!?" (Never mind it was the Bush administration that permitted this country to get into the dire financial straits AND started bailouts to multi-billion dollar corporations… but I digress.) It IS libelous to infer that a non-profit charity encourages a certain set of behaviors in minors to make money. Period. The "statutory rape coverups" are irrelevant- as some were setups and others were consentual sex acts between teens (18 and 15yo, etc). It is not in the best interests of young people to be reported for consentual sex when they come in to recieve birth control. The alleged funding use irregularities are almost always brought forth by whatever anti-choice organization is the flavor of the month and have been dismissed.

     You again miss the point of why PP exists. It is a -nonprofit- organization that provides women’s health care and sexual health education. They provide low cost, sliding fee, or free care depending on the woman’s financial situation. Have you actually BEEN to a Planned Parenthood center? Talked to one of the councilors on staff, gotten real information on funding sources and what the goals are? Or do you get all your allegations from anti-choice inflammatory sites?

  • harry834

    doctors say "no" to smoking, but drink in moderation. And waiting till marriage is far longer than waiting till 21.

    Are you acknowledging that the condom will protect in non-emotional health issues? If so, alright.

    Right a condom can’t protect the heart. But how many partners is "too many"? Are young people supposed to taught guilt about having more than one partner in their lifetime? 

    There are emotional risks to sex guilt, so let’s not push it if there’s not a good reason. I feel this talk about "best outcomes" is a way of saying" we can’t find anything wrong, so let’s just make something wrong to find".

    And in terms of consistency…we’re going to fail that if we insist that our kids "do as we say, not as we do". Are you ready to advocate all adults remain abstinent outside of marriage? Widows? Congressmen? Me? 

    Also, bear in mind reaching the age of 18 is not the same as getting married. If we assume people should not rush into marriage, that they wait for for a non-specific deadline (I’d hope this is the case in a free society)  then how many years are we going to demand America’s adult’s to remain abtinent?

    I would also say sexual experience is not the only life experience that carries the risk of heartbreak. Applying for school, making a speech, painting artwork…any life experience besides sleeping all day. We can’t hide from life to avoid heartache, and we shouldn’t demand that our children do so in the name of "protection". We should simply try to give every young person the the power to be informed. 

    Emotional outcomes vary in a way that STD transmission does not. If we start advocating protection against heartache, we’re going to demand protection against life experience.

    Eating: we need to eat, eat sweets in moderation

    Drinking: drink in moderation; ut we don’t need to drink…but prohibition failed

    Smoking: doctors say no. We should quit but its legal.

    Drugs: probably worse than Smoking and drinking (though marajuana is a ambiguous case. I don’t do it.) illegal. Stay away from every drug, at least those that are not-marijuana (but better to stay from that too).


    A different response for each human desire…

  • invalid-0

    Abstinence may be realistic in your culture for your two teenage nieces, and no one here is arguing against your being able to teach your family in that tradition. I do not agree, however, that it is a proper function of a government that professes freedom of religion to financially support programs that falsely portray methods other than abstinence as unrealistic just because a particular religious tradition’s antiquated doctrines on sex and gender can’t stand up to competition.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Why is this so personal?


    No one is challenging your right to practice abstinence until marriage or for the rest of your life, to have sex only to procreate or to never have sex.  No one is challenging the right of your nieces to do so either, though the overwhelming evidence says that of all the girls you know, some of them will become sexually active.  Indeed studies show that many teens who claim to be "abstinent" are involved in other forms of sexual activity.

    But my point is: You are speaking of individuals.  I am speaking across the population.  Abstinence-only-until-marriage is not a realistic public health strategy at the level of the population.  All the data–government, university, private research firms–bear this out.  


    My second point is that your choice is borne out of a religious conviction that not all of us share.  As others here have pointed out, it is not the job of the government in a pluralistic society to promote a religious view.  It is the role of government to promote the public health according to the evidence, and with the goals of non-discrimination and equity.


    My third point is that even if you disagree with the premise of comprehensive sexual health education, which by definition includes abstinence and delay of sexual initiation, it is far more cost-effective socially to provide this effective prevention strategy, find the best approaches in each setting and ensure that across the population we reduce unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.


    Next, as others also have pointed out, not everyone agrees with the goal of staying abstinent until marriage.  Many people just don’t see sex as that shameful; they can excercise both rights and responsibilities. 

    Finally, not everyone marries.  And not everyone can marry.  What about gays and lesbians?  


    This is a conversation about federal funding for discredited programs based on evidence that is extensively documented, and an argument for encouraging what works at a population level.


    Why is it that you see this as an attack on your personal choices? 


    And, honest question, do you think everyone should live only by your views of religion and morality?


    Thanks much, Jodi


  • invalid-0

    “Teen pregnancy = boy + girl”

    Well, sometimes. In other cases Teen pregnancy = girl +adult male who is sometimes married. Indeed the last time I was researched AOC laws the trend was that the younger the pregnant girl the older the daddy.
    Other than that I agree with everything you say.
    It’s remarkable how seldom male responsibility for each and every unwanted pregnancy is discussed by by social conservatives. For all their angst about the fate of fertilized eggs and foaming rage they’re so eager to direct towards any available women they’re as absent from discussions male responsibility for unwanted pregnancies as they are in discussions about rape and other forms of violence against women. All the focus and emphasis is on the body of the woman or girl and their right to control that body.
    The hypocrisy is astonishing. I can only suppose it’s much more fun and far less expensive to invent an invisible class of humans located inside someone else’s body and pretend to speak for The Ungestated than to deal with the post born who, after all, might point out that they’re morons. Add in the billions of ‘save the babies from their mothers’ donations and you’ve got your own private jet and a really big church too.

    • invalid-0

      Thankyou anon. I could not have said it better. So true!!

  • emma

    According to your logic, jajjal6, we should encourage kids not to overeat by telling them that they shouldn’t eat at all because food is BAD and if they eat some food they might want to eat all the time and then they’ll get fat. Now, I’m sure you’d consider this ridiculous, which is about what I think of ‘abstinence only’ education.

    Why is it bad for, say, two consenting 18 year old people to have consensual, protected sex with each other? If they do so safely (after, perhaps, being taught about safe sex at school), how is this comparable to drinking and driving, using methamphetamine, smoking or binge eating? Safe and consensual sex sounds to me like a much healthier alternative. Smoking, drinking to excess, over-eating, driving while intoxicated and so forth have demonstrably negative medical effects. This is not the case for safe, consensual sex. It’d be much better for kids to be taught about the importance of consent, about forming healthy relationships and recognising abusive ones, about recognising when one is ready to have sex and how to protect oneself from STIs and unwanted pregnancy. Much more valuable than ‘if you have sex, god says you’re a dirty slut!’.

    • harry834

      that sex is a joyful way to bring a smile to your partner and to receive one back. Lots of huddling and cuddling after practicing the dance with each other.

  • emma

    Well of course, we can’t expect the menfolk to control their natural manly urges. Women are the moral guardians of a society, and it is our job to ensure that men are not let astray from lives of virtue. Remember, women are intrinsically slutty and evil. Our sexuality is dangerous, so must be kept under control at all times and under all circumstances. //sarcasm (I have to disinfect my keyboard after typing that garbage. But it’s how they think.)

    Abortion and contraception and the irrelevance of the property transaction known as marriage scare the living hell out of conservative men, as they fear losing control of their lives and, of course, ours.

  • jodi-jacobson

    That any discussion of sexual responsibility must focus on both men and women.

    but a few things.

    One, let’s be clear in our language here.

    We are first talking about “delaying sexual initiation” as long as possible across the population of adolescents. This is versus “abstinence-only-until-marriage.” These are two profoundly different things, often purposefully confused, and ab-only-until-marriage does not happen across the majority in any society that I have seen based on data from respected surveys; it is a personal choice, not a public health strategy; and it often is a religiously bound notion that excludes by definition diverse sexual identities, people who are not allowed by law to marry because we are screwed up as a society, and people who choose to never marry. Indeed there are so many exclusions here I will just fail at including any representation of these.

    When we talk about delaying sexual debut, we are talking about reaching children and young adolescents.
    When we talk about safer sex, we are NOT talking about children.
    We are NOT in fact talking about “girls” and “boys” (ie children). We are speaking about young adult men and women in their late teens through their early twenties, and we are talking about all unmarried people who wish to be sexually active and also wish to do so responsibly.

    The inherent contradictions in all these arguments against what I have written is that no one has suggested–as the article itself points out—not promoting abstinence and delay of sexual debut in children and younger adolescents. We are talking about simultaneously equipping them to be responsible when they do become sexually active. and people who don’t want to do this are hoisting a huge, huge double standard because they want everyone to be “responsible” but apparently feel no one should be taught what that means, or rather define it only by their own standard of “until marriage.”

    So let’s be clearer here with our language.

    Finally the unfounded accusations against PPFA are simply grounded in opposition to any effort or organization that seeks to provide all people with basic sexual and reproductive health care.


  • invalid-0

    I love the way you people suddenly fancy yourselves Bristol’s new best friends. You were like a bunch of gossiping old church ladies when the pregnancy first came to light, implying that the whole thing demonstrated poor communication with her mother. Now she says “abstinance only is unrealistic” (hardly a controversial comment)and now your “protecive adult” masks are on. I looked hard for any throwing of Bristol under a bus here. The most critical comment I could find (at least from the right) is that her comments shouldn’t form the basis of public policy programs. She was asked a question and gave her honest opinion. That’s fine, but hardly earth shattering.

  • jodi-jacobson

    could you provide evidence of your assertion from one of my blogs?

    I have only ever written about Bristol’s comments about her pregnancy, from her own words. I really do not know what you are referring to.

    thanks. jodi

  • invalid-0

    gladly, if you really want to go there. One of the most recent articles published on this website about Bristol before her delivery is dated Sept 4 Annie Newman “Bristol Palin” makes religious right “forget” its stance on teen pregnancy. And from that: “religious right organizations and extremist social conservatives have more empathy for Sarah and Bristol Palin then they know what to do with. The pregnancy of Palin’s seventeen year old daughter remains just fine with the religious right.”
    Therefore, as recently as September not only was the pregnancy itself an issue to rhrealitycheck, but so was any empathy.

  • jodi-jacobson

    But that was not me.

    And I was asking for examples from my own blogs.

    So I would say a few things. First, this example you gave from September in fact reflects a political point of view regarding a) the general attitude around teen pregnancy portrayed by the religious right and how that changed specifically in regard to Bristol’s pregnancy because they saw her mother as “one of their own.”

    Second, it is not about Bristol per se, but again the change in rhetoric around her versus others (and for the record I don’t advocate teens getting pregnant).

    Third, I have consistently in my own blogs reported only on what Bristol has said and the way the right has treated that and I have never criticized Bristol for any choice she has made. To the contrary. that is the essence of choice.

    and finally, this site is not one voice….it is many voices, including your own. And I welcome your participation here. While it is true that we have a pro-choice (in the fullest sense of the term), pro-rights, pro-health approach at the core of our mandate, we also have many writers with diverse voices and opinions and we don’t always agree with each other. I can’t say I disagree with the political analysis above, but it was not written by me. I don’t think I have shifted in my treatment of Bristol.

    Thanks much for writing. Jodi

  • invalid-0

    Great article Jodi,

    We need to fund programs that work and which emcompass medically accurate informtion. Young people as well as all men and women deserve this much!

    Thank you!

  • invalid-0


    You stated, ‘To your other rambling. . . research shows that the more partners one has before marriage, the harder it is to be faithful once you actually say “I Do”‘. Can you show me this research, please?

  • invalid-0

    I do not see what the problem is with promoting abstinence as the most healthy and risk free option and then informing how to reduce the risks once sexual activity commences. How are married adults supposed to find out how to practice safe sex to prevent STDs and pregnancy if they don’t learn in school? Hope that they find the right information online? Ask the family doctor ‘I say, now that I’m married, I’d like to know how to use a condom’? (Not that that’s inherently bad, just awkward).

    Here’s an idea of what you could say: Most couples across all age groups want to use some method of birth control to prevent pregnancy and STDs at some point in their lives, for personal, financial, or various other reasons. Abstinence is the only 100% effective protection against pregnancy and STDs. Oral and anal sex carry virtually no risk of pregnancy, but have a risk of spreading STDs. Extra-marital and extra-vaginal sex is illegal in some states. Condoms have an approximately 98% success rate. This means that with perfect use, 20 out of 1000 uses will result in pregnancy. With average use, condoms are 87% effective. This means that without perfect use, 130 out of 1000 uses will result in pregnancy.

    And then you’d carry on to describe all the various other birth control methods, possibly explaining how, statistically, combining two or more methods responsibly can further reduce risk of pregnancy. (Hey! It could be a teaching moment about probability! Anyone? Break out those pre-calculus textbooks, guys!)

    What on earth is so wrong with that? It’s completely neutral! Kids don’t need to be reminded that there are social stigmas against getting pregnant before marriage. They’re aware.

    Abstinence already has a lot going for it without leaving out the handy info about birth control methods. It’s completely risk free! Smart people realise this and make smart choices knowing it.

    But I do have to ask, why do we draw the line at marriage? Why should two people who want to have a family even have to pay $35 to make it acceptable? Isn’t it irresponsible for a married couple with a combined income of under $20,000 to have a baby? Shouldn’t they wait till they are financially ‘ready’ to have a baby? Being married doesn’t automatically make you ready for a baby, but you would never ask a married couple not to have sex. Clearly it’s not about being ‘ready’ and married, it’s about social stigma and making the best of what we’ve got by making smart, informed choices.

  • invalid-0

    Back in the day we didn’t have any of these problems. And I wasn’t out of religious beliefs or prudish behavior. It was about how we were brought up. A day of abstinence sure why not.

  • invalid-0

    Hey, I still am in a traditional way of thinking…teenagers can wait to have sex till after marriage. I think if we tell them they can’t wait…we lower our expectations and they lower theirs also. Expect more of our kids and they will be able to do it.

  • invalid-0

    teenagers can wait to have sex till after marriage

    So they rush into marriage so they can have sex without you wagging your finger at them. Then the marriage goes bad, because they were never really compatible in the first place. Then they either get divorced, or if you disapprove of that too, they stay together, and the stress of doing so leads to domestic violence.

    Oh, wait a second… the divorce taboo and domestic violence are pretty “traditional,” too. It’s only in recent decades that people have begun even just talking about the latter openly.

    You need to seriously rethink the value of “traditional” ways. Here’s a hint: it has a lot more to do with what you’re used to and comfortable with, than with accommodating real human frailties that people think can be just wished away.

  • invalid-0

    The issue of early marriage or sex before marriage is a topic that today’s teenagers need to discuss with their their parents or some other elder that they trust. Otherwise this could ruin their lives.

  • invalid-0

    One of the reasons why the “abstinence” speech is more focused on girls than it is on boys is that women carry a disproportionate load when it comes to the consequences of being promiscuous. Catching an STD is the only consequence where there’s no bias. Otherwise, a promiscuous girl will get a “slut” label, or will become pregnant. A promiscuous boy will be a “stud” and doesn’t have to carry his baby.

    I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m just saying this is how it is

  • invalid-0

    Otherwise, a promiscuous girl will get a “slut” label, or will become pregnant. A promiscuous boy will be a “stud” and doesn’t have to carry his baby.

    That a promiscuous woman gets the “slut” label is another symptom, not a cause, for getting more attention in abstinence speech. (It’s like saying, when you have a cold, that your runny nose is the cause of your sneezing.) The real cause is that fundamentally, women (and everything that is womanly) are not respected in this society. Everybody feels like they should have a say in what women do, in a way that they don’t for men. It’s the whole reason why feminism exists in the first place.

    Oh, one other thing: Pregnancy is a big deal, medically, for the woman. But the man is on the hook for paternity support, remember. Pregnancy is a non-big-deal for the man only if you consider it legitimate for him to skip out on the woman he impregnated—to become a deadbeat dad.

  • invalid-0

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  • invalid-0

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