I’m not sure how one gets to be too pregnant, but that should give you some idea as to how ridiculous parts of this article are.
It’s about the high teen birth rate in Texas (#1 in the nation, baby), and is unfortunately full of skewed statistics and flat-out untruths. Parts of it are actually not too bad, but overall it’s a frustrating read. The reporter points out that abstinence-only education doesn’t work, but still seems to accept that it’s a good idea — even when he quotes idiotic points like this one:
Conner is not convinced access to contraception in the schools is a good idea, either. “We don’t want to send a mixed message,” she said. She noted that a mixed message would be “don’t have sex, but if you do, use a condom.”
Kind of like saying, “Don’t drink, but if you do, have a designated driver”?
And he lets his bias slip through more than once:
Perhaps the secular-only teaching method is the equivalent of using ineffective scare tactics: Sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and other health and economic problems associated with bad choices. Some argue that without a common set of absolute moral values, and a collective community desire to teach moral values with a religious base, secular abstinence programs are watered down. Bishop of San Angelo Michael Pfeiffer noted, according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, that 39 percent of teens said their “morals, values, and/or religious beliefs” were the most important factors affecting their decision about whether to have sex. Yet he also highlights the fact that Biblical principles are confirmed by the physical consequences of poor moral decisions. “The social consequences alone should be a strong factor to motivate people to abstain from premarital sex,” Pfeiffer said. And the bishop disagrees that the San Angelo area does not share absolute values:
“From my experience the vast majority of people still believe in an absolute – they believe in God and they do recognize that we are dependent people. Hence, this is why we start with the moral dimension, that does not flow primary from the church but flows from the very word of God,” the bishop said.
Yet absolute moral values derived from any religious source cannot be reinforced in public schools without violating the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment. What then do we do?
Emphasis mine. Don’t you hate it when the Supreme Court interprets the words “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” to mean that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion?
And then there are the parts that are either severely misinformed or intentional lies:
Behind Planned Parenthood’s three-paned bulletproof glass receptionist window at 2010 Pecos, just off Sherwood Way in San Angelo, workers and volunteers provide every kind of contraception imaginable, including foam, condoms and other non-prescription methods without parental consent. Prescription contraception requires parental consent. Planned Parenthood of West Texas, Inc’s (PPWT) four clinics in Odessa, Midland, Abilene, and San Angelo saw 13,000 patients in 2006, according to their Web site. The newest offering of Planned Parenthood’s birth control clinics is “emergency contraception,” commonly known as the “morning after pill” or “Plan B.” This is the abortion pill opposed by anti-abortion advocates that can be taken within approximately five days of sexual intercourse.
I’ll say it again: “Plan B,” or emergency contraception, is not the same thing as the abortion pill. Plan B is a high dose of birth control; the abortion pill is another drug entirely.
The Abstinence Clearinghouse (abstinence.net) noted that having Planned Parenthood teaching abstinence is akin to asking O.J. Simpson to teach anger management. They worry that this is a thinly veiled attempt to get in front of children to spread pro-contraception and pro-abortion ideology that sends mixed signals to teens.
Yeah, having a reproductive health care organization teach reproductive health is crazy.
Then there are Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which are just as out of touch as abstinence-only sex-ed programs:
Franke is also involved in teaching abstinence to her clients. “Many times when you mention abstinence, they’ll look at you like you are from Mars,” Franke said, lamenting about the downward spiral of moral understanding of young women. “There are no more positive role models. Many times it is the second or third generation of unwed mothers coming to see us. But every so often, the light will come on. They understand. They get it [that they don’t have to continue having sex].”
Because women only have sex because we feel like we have to, and because we lack moral understanding.
And Franke is concerned that because abortion services are a revenue generator for PPWT, women visiting their clinic may not be receiving sincere advice that is best for the woman rather than what is best for PPWT’s bottom line. Franke says her center has an 87% success rate in persuading young mothers against the abortion option. “Planned Parenthood is upset with us because we are cutting into their income stream,” Franke said in response to the bold warning about her center on PPWT’s Web site.
I love the myth that Planned Parenthood is making bank on abortions. Abortion is pretty much the cheapest surgery you can have, precisely because Planned Parenthood takes major cuts in profits in order to provide it for a lower cost. They’re a health care provider, and until we have a decent health care system, they have to charge patients for their services — and there is no shame in paying for a medical procedure.
At our request, Ashley called the San Angelo office of PPWT to inquire about their abortion service, as if she was pregnant again. “They told me that it’s price starts at $470. But I screwed up my dates, and they calculated that I was in my second trimester. The abortion would cost me $595 then,” Ashley said. “But the lady said that they had someone in training and if I go this weekend, I can get the $470 price,” she continued. “It was like they were trying to sell me a used car!” PPWT was contacted to comment on this, but the spokeman didn’t get back to us by press time.
When I got my wisdom teeth extracted, my oral surgeon told me that it would be cheaper and easier to do it before they came in, as opposed to waiting until they started to emerge — the latter included a possibility of impaction, infection, and generally screwed up teeth, which would take a lot more time, effort and money to fix. So I had them out earlier. That’s how it works with progressive medical conditions — attending to it earlier typically means an easier, quicker procedure, which means a lower cost. That isn’t selling you a used car, that’s accurately assessing a medical situation. Why, exactly, should abortion be an exception?
If PPWT is trying to turn abortion into big business in west Texas, they are doing a terrible job of selling it. According to their year 2005 IRS Form 990, the Odessa-based Planned Parenthood of West Texas Abortion Services, the sub-organization that apparently derives all of its income from fees for performing abortions in a clinic in Odessa, grossed $499,573 in revenues (PPWT does not perform abortions in San Angelo. They are referred to the Odessa clinic). But after paying all of its expenses, it lost $53,162. The umbrella organization, Planned Parenthood of West Texas, Inc., that earns fees for birth control and other health services primarily for women, grossed $1.79 million and earned $40,856. Combined, both PPWT organizations lost $12,306 in 2005.
Planned Parenthood does suck at selling abortion — because they aren’t trying to. Abortion has always been a losing business. Some things, though, aren’t just about money, and having known many committed Planned Parenthood employees, I feel relatively confident in saying that for most of them, it’s about providing health care to women in need.
Peeling back more of the onion skin on both of the financial statements, however, we find that PPWT charged PPWT Abortion Services $34,162 for rent and an additional $200,389 for administrative fees, adding to the former’s total revenue. Without the abortion clinic, PPWT would be $234,551 more in the hole.
$234,551. Over the course of one year. For a large regional organization. Yeah, Planned Parenthood is really raking it in…
Crystal Conner said parents are the ultimate solution. But she sees a trend of parents being less involved in their children’s lives than ever before. RCY held focus groups with youth in 2004 to determine better ways to reach parents. “Most of the kids felt that their parents weren’t aware of the issues or pressures they have to deal with. And they wanted their parents to take a more active role in parenting,” she said.
Interesting that she “sees a trend of parents being less involved in their children’s lives than ever before,” since statistics show the exact opposite. But statistics don’t seem to be this reporter’s strong point:
In 1970, nationwide, only five percent of girls, aged 15, had sex before marriage. By 1990, the number rate had grown to 33.1 percent, and in 2003, the number was reported at 47 percent. Likewise the illegitimacy rate for all children born in Texas hovers around 35 percent, and in San Angelo it is 40 percent. All the while, PPWT generates nearly $500,000 per year performing abortions.
He doesn’t say where he got these statistics, and I’m more than a little skeptical — I have a really hard time believing that almost half of 15-year-olds have had sex. I couldn’t find any stats to back up his numbers — although I did find plenty of reports which say that more than 90 percent of Americans will have sex before marriage, calling into question the wisdom of education that tells them to “just wait” and gives no information on pregnancy and disease prevention.
And according to his own statistics, Planned Parenthood of West Texas lost money — to the tune of $50,000 — by performing abortions. Which makes his claim that “All the while, PPWT generates nearly $500,000 per year performing abortions” a little questionable.
The growth of the number of unwanted pregnancies even in the modern age of birth control means Bishop Pfeiffer has a point about over-reliance upon birth control. But abstinence education doesn’t seem to be curbing the pregnancy rates in the SAISD either. Where do we go from here? Maybe we need to combine the efforts of continuing abstinence education and distribute condoms in the hallways of the high schools just in case. Or, we can open up the floodgates, forget any moral consequences, and provide easy access to abortion.
Lord knows that we should make abortion difficult and shameful and impossible to get if we want to lower the teen birth rate.
And no, the good Bishop does not have a point about over-reliance on birth control when a big part of the problem is that young women don’t have access to birth control, aren’t using it properly, and don’t have accurate information about it. You know who “over-relies” on birth control? The Swedes. And the Germans. And the Dutch. They have really high birth control usage rates, comprehensive sex ed, and accessible (and often free) abortion. They also have the lowest abortion rates in the world.
Two ingredients that appear to have a chance of positively impacting this problem are motivating parents to provide better discipline for their children (maybe we haven’t tried hard enough yet) and increasing the influences of the churches. Remember, 39 percent of teens cited religious, moral obligations as the reason they chose not to have sex.
Just check out the teen birth rate in religious strongholds like Texas to see how well that works.
And now, after learning more about the jungle out there, I think I will have a talk with my daughters. I am going to let them know that I love them and want the very best for them. And to reach that goal, we’re reaffirming the boundaries our family has set for them. Then we’re going to go to church.
After church, I am going to pre-flight my shotgun.
I’m not even sure what that means, but I’m assuming it has something to do with Daddy chasing off his daughter’s potential impregnators with his shotgun (or preparing for a shotgun wedding?). Either way, perhaps brandishing a weapon isn’t the best way to talk to your daughters about making responsible sexual decisions. And perhaps instead of talking about “the boundaries our family has set for them,” it might be better to treat them as actual autonomous human beings, and talk to them about how they’re going to set boundaries for themselves.
Or just get your gun and waive it around. Whatever works.
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