Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Conservatives want women barefoot and pregnant

Conservatives in Texas must be really proud of the latest statistic to come out of their state. Facts and figures show the Lone Star State has the highest rate of teenage births in the US despite the major fall in numbers reported throughout the rest of the country. One cannot help but connect this high honor bestowed on Texas to the conservative politics entrenched in their system through the works and words of their favorite son, President George W. Bush. Every study under the sun has proven that policies like abstinence only education that keep teenagers from receiving education on sex and its consequences do nothing to actually stop them from engaging in sexual activity. Rather then curtail sexual activity; these programs actually yield horrific results in combating the issues surrounding ill-informed sexuality activity like STDs and unwanted pregnancies. Yet with all the studies around what is necessary to keep teenagers safe and baby-free, George W. Bush and his conservative cronies continue to support policies that restrict the information teens receive on sex, spending millions of tax-payer dollars on programs that do not work, leading to the question; do conservatives actually want teenage girls to get pregnant?

Conservatives ride on a platform of being pro-life, but in actuality, are they really just pro-pregnancy? It is easy to draw this conclusion through policy analysis; the current administration and the Republican Party show a complete the lack of support for anything that gives a woman control of her reproduction. The battle against reproductive rights and freedom is fought from three major fronts:
  • Elimination of sex education.
  • Outlawing birth control.
  • Banning women from ending unwanted pregnancies.

The Battle to Eliminate Sex Eduation: No matter which side of the political fence you are on, the facts are clear around the lack of success of these programs. Abstinence only education is proven to be ineffective in keeping teens from engaging in sexual activity. 60 percent of American teenagers have sex before age 18. Research also shows that 88 percent of those who took abstinence pledges have sex before marriage. The American Journal of Public Health reported that around 9 out of 10 times, better understanding and use of contraceptives is cited as the reason for the drop in pregnancy rate, not abstinence. Very few actually believe that these programs ensure that people wait until their wedding nights to have sex yet conservatives continue to stand behind these failing programs that promote ignorance over empowerment. Knowing these programs do not work, do conservatives see teenage pregnancy as a failure or is it actually being promoted?

Countries that educate and have programs for teenage girls to get birth control have the same levels of teenage sexual activity as the US, but are seeing much better results in lowering the incidents of both pregnancy and STDs. American girls are four times more likely then German girls to become pregnant and five times more likely to have HIV. American girls are also five times more likely then French girls to have a baby and 70 times more likely to have gonorrhea. So programs focusing on abstinence are not only gambling with the reproductive freedom of teenagers, but also their lives.

The Battle to Outlaw Birth Control: The Republican Party as a whole is very open about their stance against abortion, making their actions against birth control puzzling since knowledge of and the ability to attain birth control would prevent abortions. Republicans are very well aware that most of their constituents have used birth control yet they continue to cater to the extremists who equate birth control with abortion. Speaking of the “sanctity of life,” some proponents of outlawing birth control contend that every egg deserves to be a fertilized one that develops into a baby. This is the same argument given for arguments against embryonic stem cell research. It does not take much dissection of both these arguments to establish these groups value the life of an unborn child over the life of a fully developed, living, breathing woman.

The Battle to Ban Abortion: Also demonstrating the lack of value placed on women is the support of abortion legislation that bans the procedure even if it is to protect the life of the woman. These groups are not pro-lifers, they are anti-women baby extremists; willing to sacrifice the life of a woman, placing a higher value on her womb then her life.

These conservative groups want to keep women barefoot and pregnant through all means possible as demonstrated by their archaic views on sex education, contraception and abortion. With the number of Christians who support at the very least a women’s right to effective family planning through reliable birth control, it is difficult to accept the biblical reasons groups often cite as their reasons for limiting women's rights to quality family planning. There are reasons, other then those claimed to be based in religious faith, for denying women control over their bodies. In our capitalist society we must always remember that it is money, not values, that makes the political world go 'round'.

The major strides women have made in attaining gender equality over the past century are primarily attributed to the advances made in reproductive medicine, education and the widespread availability of birth control. Forbidding women from controlling the number of children they have forces them to take on lower paying jobs, sacrifice educational opportunities and become increasingly dependent on men for support. Women are not able to be equal with men unless they are able to plan or forego pregnancy, allowing them to compete in the workplace and yield the same economic independence of men. The groups attacking women’s reproductive options are the same as those who keep fighting against the Equal Rights Amendment. Coincidence? I think not.

From a purely socio-economic/political science standpoint, promoting unwanted pregnancies through all means possible actually helps the Republican Party well beyond their so called “family values” and “pro-life” platforms. One-third of teenage girls who have a child before 18 will ever earn their High School Diploma. Only 1.5% of these girls will earn a college degree by the time they are 30 years old. The children born of teenage parents are more likely to have health issues, educational issues and become teenage parents themselves. This creates a permanent underclass of females that perpetuates for generations through their children. Creating this second class citizenry through promoting unwanted pregnancies creates a very large population of individuals paying regressive payroll taxes, increasing the tax base while allowing for reductions in the higher brackets. So the next time you hear some republican talk about these policies being for the children, the children they are really talking about are their own who in turn become richer off those who were denied the economic freedom of education and higher payer jobs because they were not given the resources necessary to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

The conservative agenda aims at keeping women from being successful and solidly cements the glass ceiling above the heads of girls through providing teenagers with abstinence only education, making birth control difficult to attain and limiting a woman’s ability to end unwanted pregnancies. These policies of promoting ignorance and denying women's control of their health are ethically imorral, risking the lives of teenagers and adult women to keep women from attaining the same freedoms and status of men.


Wade said...

i think the main motivation behind the conservative stance is that if you don't talk to your kids about sex in any way, they won't be tempted to have sex. and while i understand this mindset (particularly as a parent of a 3-year old daughter), it's not realistic. they'll hear about sex from somewhere, unfortunately; parents can decide if it's from them or from tv / peers / myspace.

husband said...

here's the thing. I think many people who consider themselves "republican" or "right leaning independant" who agree with or at least think there is some truth to what you say. but they continue to vote republican because of a few issues. e.g. they want lower taxes, less government (theoretically a republican stance), excessive military spending, kickbacks... er... "incentives" for big business. Anyway, until people put the good of others (women) before themselves, expect the status quo. as for me, while I agree with a fair amount of the republican platform, I value social issues higher than economic issues.

Steve said...

"Chelle, as a conservative nurse, I can tell you that kids DO need REALISTIC sex education. There is a difference between conservatives like me who are conservative for fiscal reasons, and then the "Born again" crowd. There is a part of Conservative "Believers", be they Muslim or Christian, that take a paternalistic view towards women, but please don't paint us all with the same brush. One of my biggest gripes with this "Branch" on the conservative tree is their Homophobia, and unwillingness to have realistic sex ed for the kids. I will add though, that I do have a hard time with the idea that my 16 year old daughter can go to a planned parenthood or Teen Annex clinic without my knowlege and get BCP's. My kid's school cannot give a tylenol with out my consent, but to give a BCP without my knowldege? What Happens if she goes to the ER and they ask what meds she is on, and I do not know she is on 'The pill'. Anyway, the bigger factor in Texas is that there is a higher % of people who are Baptist, Pentascostal or other more conservative ends of Christianity.

Steve said...

PS-I will add that there IS a hypocrosy among pro life conservatives who in the same breath don't want teen aged moms to get any MA or welfare bennies-This sort of, "Have the baby, but once you have the baby, you are on your own." I think in the overall scheme of things, Parents are dropping the ball in terms of educating their kids. I wish you could here some of the triage calls that I get at work from teenage girls and boys-the amount of ignrorance- be that kid an inner city black kid, or a WASP suburban kid on Sex, contraception and Sexually transmitted diseases is absolutely stunning and sobering.

Explosive Bombchelle said...

At some point I'm going to need to write a piece on how the Christian Conservative movement has destroyed the Republican party. They have given them some temporary success, but in the long term, the narrow-mindedness is going to backfire on the party. I too at one point in my life was a card carrying Republican (which my husband will be quick to remind me, I did intern for Govenor George "Macaca" Allen), but I could no longer overlook the parties negligence towards women and children.

As far as realistic sex education, I think there is an area that parents, schools and society drop the ball on. Not teaching kids about sex won't stop them, just teaching how to prevent pregnancy and STDs won't encourage them anymore then anything else... how about all the reasons to wait. It's a tough area, and one that would probably fall upon deaf ears if delivered by parents, but if some 22 year old talked to me around 13 or 14 years old on all the reasons to wait; broken hearts, special moments, boys only wanting one thing, regrets and enjoying the finer points of young dating while you are young, I personally might have listened a little bit more...

Steve said...

It's funny, when I was in college and a few years out in my twenties, I WAS a Democrat(I even voted for Wellstone the first time he was elected). When I started working as a nurse in an inner city hospital and I dealt with people who abused the welfare system and expected somebody else(local, state or federal government) to bail them out because they made bad personal choices. I became more and more conservative for what I felt were people always waiting for somebody else to fix their problems. Just because somebody was too stupid or lazy to use a condom, get on the pill, let a jobless guy impregnante them, having multiple babies by different partners, not being a dad to the kids you have sired,not get their tubes tied/get a vasectomy when they had multiple kids and the mom was still on welfare or no job-I'm sorry,that's not a Republican consipiracy against women or blacks, that's lack of personal accountability.(PS, I do recognize that sometimes contraception fails)

Now after this rant-I am not happy with the direction the Republican party has taken. I have no patience for Corporate welfare and homophobia.