Now Jane Galt’s got a long piece about why sex education isn’t going to solve the “abortion problem.” Her big piece of evidence is a 1995 study that shows that after participating in a sex education course and getting free access to birth control, contraceptive use increases only 22 percent. Yikes! That means that if the rate of contraceptive use was, say, 50 percent before, then even after a sex-ed course, perhaps 39 percent still don’t use contraceptives!
This is the problem with using the “war on abortion” defense. Even if we could show that sex education and easier access to birth control would reduce abortions by 90 percent, the anti-sex crowd will argue that one “baby” “dying” is enough to justify a whole host of restrictions on women’s rights.
I think a much more effective route is to point out that the real agenda of the so-called “pro-life” movement is to restrict your activities in the bedroom. Their real goal is not to restrict abortion, but to restrict sex, and to do it, they want to ban not only abortion but also birth control. Don’t believe me? Look at the vehemence with which the “pro-life” movement argues against the “day after pill,” as they like to call it. This drug is nothing more than a large dose of standard birth control pills, and it functions in exactly the same way. Consider how these same groups rail against non-procreative sex — against homosexuality, against oral sex, against masturbation. If the real goal is “saving babies’ lives,” why are they so interested in restricting activities that have nothing to do with getting pregnant?
Most sadly of all, the means by which the anti-sexers choose to restrict is to turn the child into a form of punishment for having sex. Instead of seeing a child as something that people should cherish, as something to nurture, the anti-sex movement sees the possibility of pregnancy as the ultimate trump card. Don’t have sex, they suggest, unless you are willing to devote half your life to raising rugrats. Not only is this approach demeaning to children, it’s also a rather crude method of enforcing morality. If the anti-sexers aren’t impressed by social measures that “only” reduce abortions by 20 percent, I suspect they’d be similarly disappointed in the impact of criminalizing abortion. Outlawing abortion isn’t going to stop sex any more than high insurance rates have hindered the sale of sports cars.
None of this is to say that I’m in favor of some kind of free-for-all orgy. I have a 14-year-old son who’s six feet tall. I’m absolutely petrified of him becoming sexually active, and I’m prepared to use any scare tactic in my arsenal to persuade him to postpone sexual activity. I’ve even pointed out to him that, here in North Carolina, it’s entirely likely that a girl he gets pregnant will choose not to get an abortion, and so he’d be changing diapers after school. Whether he’ll choose to remember that when the moment of passion arises is a less certain bet — it’d be better if I knew the girl was getting a similar education. But that’s something that can only be achieved with better sex education for everyone.