According to a report on the BBC website today looking at the issue of repeat teenage abortion the ‘Pro-life groups want better regulation of abortions and think schools need to teach children about relationships, not just the physical side of sex.’ If they are so keen to teach children about relationships how is it that it was their (and faith groups) lobbying of MPs that led to the downfall of the legislation that would have made sex and relationships (yes that’s right RELATIONSHIPS) education a statutory curriculum requirement?
Anti abortion groups don’t want a comprehensive curriculum of sex and relationships education which combines scientific, evidence-based information with exploration of relationships, feelings and values. They want an abstinence-only curriculum which teaches young people that sex is intrinsically wrong, that having sex will ruin your life and that pledges of virginity will keep you pure and bring you joy and happiness. Unfortunately we know from endless evidence that abstinence-only doesn’t work.
What the abstinence lobby don’t own up to knowing is that it is pretty commonplace amongst US youth who have taken the virginity pledge to religiously avoid penis in vagina penetration... but to merrily practice oral and anal sex like it’s going out of fashion. Well, you may say, that is some kind of creative response to the situation. But actually many of them are unaware of the STI risks that go along with these kinds of sex and are often having sex without protection. On top of the physical risks, many people have asked how much fun and pleasure the girls are getting out of this arrangement.
On top of everything we know not just that abstinence education doesn’t work, but that those who teach it have no compunction about lying to children and young people in an attempt to promote their belief system. Just look at this fascinating report on abstinence-only education from Henry Waxman a US politician who knows how to kick-ass with evidence! You've all heard about the microscopic holes in condoms. Well did you also know that in this country anti-abortion organisations routinely tell young people that abortion will leave them infertile when in reality the vast majority of women are fully fertile within just a week or two of abortion. We know from professionals we meet in training around the country that this myth leads young women to test their fertility following abortion and often find themselves pregnant again.
So, when the anti-abortion lobby are quoted on the BBC telling us all that better sex and relationships education is needed to reduce the scourge of repeat teenage abortion, excuse me if I choke on my tea.
The discussion about the problem of late abortion is for another day, but for anyone who cares. Two pieces of research you can read will tell you something interesting about the causes and possible solutions.