Why I prefer common sense to conservatives’ so-called morality.
by Patrick O’Heffernan
Why rigid, conservative morality is bad for America: a case study of morality gone wrong. Over 39 out of every 1,000 teenage girls gave birth in 2009 in the United States, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Live Science reports that in the United Kingdom, 24 out of every 1,000 teen girls gave birth that year, and only 4 out of every 1,000 had a baby in the Netherlands. The US is over the top in teenage pregnancies and has a problem with tgeen sex, right?
But not so fast – this is not an American problem, but a conservative problem. Research shows that more conservative the state, the higher the teen birth rate. In a new Washington University study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, researchers looked at the birth rates of girls aged 15 to 17 living in 24 states from 1997 to 2005. Arkansas (ranked as the 10th most conservative state in the nation by Gallup) had the highest teen birth rate (34.8 births per 1,000 teen girls). Texas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma (all conservative) also rank high. However, New Hampshire, ranked as liberal on social issues, had the lowest rate during this time period, 9.7.
So what could be goinig on here. Don’t moral, religious conservative kids have less sex than loose morals liberal kids? Apparently not, so what is difference between conservataive kids who have lots of babies and liberal kids who don’t. There is one major difference -the conservative kids in the conservative states are all subjected to morally based, bible- quoting abstenince only sex ed programs.
As the researchers studied the birth rates for each state, they also looked at the state’s sexual education practices — whether schools taught things such as STD prevention, birth control management and condom efficacy — as well as each state’s level of conservatism, religiosity, and abortion policies. Not surprisingly, conservative states take a more conservative stance on sex education —focusing on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs instead of sexuality-based programs. A 2009 Congressional investigation founda that not only did abstinence only programs fail to teach birth control, they actually promogated deliberately inaccurate infromation, making the situation worse. Fourteen of the 16 southern states, which also tend to be the most conservative, taught abstinence programs. Each is among the highest in teen births and STDs.
To be fair, sex ed programs might not be the only factor: the fact that these states are more conservative and tend to be more religious suggest that the rates may also be related to more conservative views on abortion. It is possible that, despite sex education, girls in both conservative and liberal states are getting pregnant at about the same rate, and that the girls in conservataive, religious states are carrying their babies to term as a result of higher religiosity, a lack of access to abortion services, or both. However, the hurdles to teenagers getting abortions in all states would mitigate this difference, if it is a difference. A more likely explanation is that teens in all states have sex at about the same rate, but that a lack of knowledge of an access to birth control is a more important facator, if not the most important afactor.
If this is true, the so-called “personhood ammendements” put on the ballots by so-called moral oraganizations in conservative states (and defeated in the past) which will outlaw most forms of hormonal birth control will only make things worse. If any of these laws pass, we can expect to see a spike in teen pregnancies, births and out of state teen abortions – exactly the opposite outcome the conservtives are seeking with their co-called moral postiion. I prefer common sense to conservatives so-called morality.