From the L.A. Times comes news that Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Governor Sarah Palin appears to disagree with the zealots of her party on the question of condom use and other forms of pregnancy-prevention.
“I’m pro-contraception, and I think kids who may not hear about it at home should hear about it in other avenues,” she said during a debate in Juneau.
Now, first off, let’s be sure to give credit where credit is due. I have yet to see an argument against teaching reasonable sex education, including the proper use of contraceptives, that stands up to the smell test. I’ve read plenty of arguments that say something along the lines of “teaching about sex ‘normalizes’ it and leads to more teenage sex.” And, indeed, these arguments may even be true.
However, teaching about proper use and widespread distribution of condoms also has been statistically shown to reduce rates of STD spread, although it’s unclear whether or not there is a significant effect on unintended pregnancies. Teaching abstinence only, on the other hand, has been shown to delay the first incidence of vaginal sex, but increase rates of other, more dangerous sexual behaviors, particularly unprotected oral and anal sex, the net result of which is that STD rates among students who have pledged abstinence are the same students who did not engage in such a pledge.
So, on net, it appears that teenagers will have sex, whether or not they are taught about it. Perhaps those who are taught details of the mechanics are more likely to have sex, perhaps not. But, for my money, I would much rather that more teens are having safer sex, than the apparent alternative, which is uninformed teens having six times as much unprotected anal sex, before then moving on to having more unprotected vaginal sex with partners who are less likely to be using other forms of contraception.
So, again, let’s give Governor Palin credit for having the right position, which is that teaching the proper use of contraception is a necessary part of a responsible sex education curriculum.
But, of course, this post is not without a smackdown of Palin’s opinions as well. The McCain campaign has yet to try and rectify this issue, although I’m sure that Governor Palin will be saying the complete opposite on the campaign trail any day now, since, as detailed by Hilzoy, the campaign’s way of covering up any slight inconsistencies in Governor Palin’s record is simply to lie about it, over, and over, and over again.
And, indeed, Governor Palin later said something a bit internally inconsistent.
Palin wrote, “Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support.”
Because, you know, those explicit programs are going to teach teens about things like oral sex, and anal sex, and without them there’s no way whatsoever that they could find out about such things!