On the Church's NFP-only stance: The case of Texas

It’s no secret the Catholic Church has been strongly opposed to the pending Reproductive Health Bill, with many of their more misguided devout  followers branding the Bill’s proponents as heretics, pro-abortionists, and murderers, among more colorful names.

If the Church is willing to go through hell and high water to keep what they’ve called an anti-life policy out of congress, then what alternative have they promoted? An abstinence only program. One that teaches that no sexual activity is allowed out of marriage (and even then, sex in marriage has to be aimed at creating a child).

It’s like telling somebody in driving school that the safest way to drive is not to get in a car.

I won’t mince words here – I honestly believe that the policy the church tries to push is a dick one, and that it will only hurt the  Philippine community in the long run. But I also know that It’ll be simple posturing if I only claim that the church’s method didn’t work.

Hence I did some digging, and found that at least one state in the United States attempted an NFP-only curriculum for its teens – Texas.

As of 1995, Texas schools were required by law to implement an abstinence-only sex education program ). Here’s a clip of the law:

…e)  Any course materials and instruction relating to human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, or human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome shall be selected by the board of trustees with the advice of the local school health advisory council and must:

  1. present abstinence from sexual activity as the preferred choice of behavior in relationship to all sexual activity for unmarried persons of school age;
  2. devote more attention to abstinence from sexual activity than to any other behavior;
  3. emphasize that abstinence from sexual activity, if used consistently and correctly, is the only method that is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, infection with human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and the emotional trauma associated with adolescent sexual activity;

It’s very much how the RCC would have liked to pattern any sex education program here. So was the program a success? The answer is  a resounding no, based on the reports of a handful of  studies on the state’s STD and pregnancy rates for teens.

In 2007, Baltimore’s Annie E. Casey Foundation released a study indicating that Texas had the highest birth rate for teens in the 15 to 19 age group from 2003 to 2004. According to the report, 63 out of 1000 teens were giving birth in the state, as compared to the national average of 41 out of 1000 teens.

In the same year, the American Medical Association released a report criticizing abstinence-only policies. The AMA report further noted that a better means of  combating teen pregnancies was a comprehensive sex education program that not only taught abstinence, but also the use of contraceptives.

The Texas Department of State Health recently released a report indicating a steady increase in STD cases in the state, starting from 1999; The number of Syphilis cases in 1999 were only 459, before increasing to 1,405 by 2008.

What’s most disturbing is that the state report indicates that more than a third of these STD infections occured in teens – those found in the 15-19 age range.

So what do these figures mean in light the Philippine context? If the RCC seriously wants to push an abstinence-only agenda on RP, they will want to take a good long look at the case of Texas, and its population’s own experience with their programs.

Although there are hints of a happy ending for the Lone Star State: Schools have begun to restructure their sex-ed programs to include a more complete curriculum in light of the dismal effects of their abstinence-only programs.

Given that such a program has already been implemented in a 1st world country and has been met failure, to persist in its implementation here would be tantamount to intellectual dishonesty.

Then again, the local Church was never a big fan of logic and reason to begin with.

Feel free to email the links I’ve provided to that recent hate list of contra-RH Bill congressmen Geri was kind enough to post earlier.

Also see:

http://www.tfn.org/site/DocServer/SexEdRort09_web.pdf?docID=981 http://www.tfn.org/site/DocServer/ExecSum-exReport09.pdf?docID=982

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