Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What About Teen Pregnancy?

            So… it seems that our current administration is cutting funding for investigations into how to prevent teen pregnancies. And, of course, this thrills conservative Christians who favor abstinence-only positions. And liberals are less than thrilled, since it’s rather demonstrably true that abstinence-only polices pretty much always result in increases in teen pregnancies. So of course, there has been the usual chorus of liberals and secularists pointing out this fact as if it ought to affect the policy. But I don’t think it will work, because it never does. And I’d kinda like to talk about why I think that is.
            Now, this is just my personal theory. I may be way off base, here, and I encourage anyone who thinks they know better to correct me. But I think that trying to point out the effect of different policies on teen pregnancy rates completely misses the point. It’s based on the assumption that the target audience agrees that teen pregnancy is a problem, and that reducing it ought to be a policy goal. And I don’t think that’s true.
            I don’t think that conservative Christianity, or at least that portion of it seriously involved in government policy and practically orgasmic over the current administration’s eagerness to pander to their agenda, cares even a little bit about teen pregnancy. We liberals and secularists may think they should, and we may even have good reasons for thinking that, but they just don’t. What they care about is premarital sex.
            You see, to secular society, the problems with teenagers having sex is the possibility of contracting an STD, and that getting pregnant at such a young age frequently leads to health problems, unnecessary abortions, and long-term educational and economic disadvantages for both the mother and the baby. Since those are the problems, and it is demonstrably true that sex education (including abstinence, birth control methods, how conception and pregnancy work, and how STDs are transmitted) reduces the chances of these occurring, then it only makes sense to have a comprehensive sex education policy.
            To conservative Christianity, the problem is with anyone, of any age, having sex outside of marriage because their god doesn’t approve of that sort of thing. It doesn’t give a fig whether we’re talking about teenagers or geriatrics; if they’re married they can have sex and should get pregnant, and if they’re not married they should not have sex for any reason. Full stop. The only possible policy that meets this goal is abstinence outside of marriage. It’s not about whether anything negative happens as a result of sex. The consequences are immaterial. Their god said you shouldn’t do it, so you are supposed to obey.
            Thoughts? Anybody?
            I think that we sometimes talk about fundamentally different worldviews that value different things as if they value the same things. We like to focus on what we have in common, and in general I think that’s a good idea. But we shouldn’t allow it to blind us to how the differences impact the way we talk to each other. Or rather, allow it to let us talk past each other because we make too many assumptions. It behooves us to pay attention to what other people profess to believe, and take them seriously. I know it bugs me when other people treat me as if I don’t actually believe what I say I believe. I figure I owe other people the courtesy of taking them at face value.

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