Several commenters here have said that in examining the practical effects of abstinence-only sex ed, I am missing the point that the religious right isn't really interested in decreasing teen pregnancy or STDs. Wesley Elsberry sent me this perfect example of that from the ARN message boards. When asked by another person whether he prefers abstinence-only sex ed because it works or because it suits his ideology, Douglas Bender replied:
Both. But even if it only reflected my ideology, and didn't seem to "work" in preventing sexual activity and sexual disease, that would only matter if preventing sexual disease (and unwanted pregnancy, etc.) were the only or most important dangers inherent in pre-marital and/or promiscuous sex. If this life is all there is, then that would be the case. If, on the other hand, it is not, then the souls of the individuals are more important than physical well-being (which is not to say that physical well-being is not important), and one should not teach them ways to destroy or taint their souls in "safety".
There will always be those who disregard wise counsel - does that mean we should abandon that wise counsel, and resort to foolishness which meets the "market demand"? What's the goal in sex education, anyway? Offer the children hope that they can go ahead and have sex without any consequences? Sort of like, "We know a lot of you are going to have sex anyway, so here's a way to do it without having any negative physical consequences. Here, have a condom, and if you're going to be foolish, at least be careful and have fun. It's on us."
Score one for ACW and the others who have commented on this. There is something fundamentally inhumane about this obsession with moral purity at the expense of health and happiness.
Well, I guess if producing record numbers of abortions, getting young women pregnant, causing poverty stricken broken single parent homes, and spreading AIDS and every other STD, is your metric of success, it must be Champagne and Caviar all over Red State America these days. They're racking up the wins.
I don't know who said it first, but the religious right are not pro-life. They are pro-birth.
It's such a bizarre mentality. The basic idea is that sex is a consequential act. Therefore we must stigmatise it and lie to people about the health risks so that when they do have extramarital sex (as people inevitably will), the consequences are almost bound to be bad. Therefore extramarital sex is evil.