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Knocked Up, Who's There?
The Grinch who cut contraceptive funding, for one. Ceci Connolly explains, in The Washington Post, why unintended pregnancies are up:

At a time when policymakers have made reducing unintended pregnancies a national priority, 33 states have made it more difficult or more expensive for poor women and teenagers to obtain contraceptives and related medical services, according to an analysis released yesterday by the nonpartisan Guttmacher Institute.

From 1994 to 2001, many states cut funds for family planning, enacted laws restricting access to birth control and placed tight controls on sex education, said the institute, a privately funded research group that focuses on sexual health and family issues.

The statewide trends help explain why more than half of the 6 million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended and offer clues for tackling problems associated with teenage pregnancy and abortion, said researchers who specialize in the field.

"The most powerful and least divisive way to decrease abortion is to reduce unintended pregnancy," said Sarah Brown, director of the nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. "If we can make progress reducing unintended pregnancy, we can make enormous progress reducing abortion."

Why aren't there condom vending machines in every high school -- and everywhere? Why don't we pass out condoms free on street corners? Oh, does your religion say sex before marriage is a sin? We're so sorry. Why don't you go hide under a pew somewhere and let the rest of us throw around contraceptives and give realistic sex education classes -- the kind that don't promote "abstinence"...that kind of education being the real sin (the kind against reality and common sense that leads to 17-year-old mommies).

Posted by aalkon at March 2, 2006 10:12 AM


From a recent Writers Almanac:


Prig offered Pig the first chance at dessert,
So Pig reached out and speared the bigger part.

"Now that," cried Prig, "is extremely rude of you!"
Pig, with his mouth full, said, "Wha, wha' wou' 'ou do?"

"I would have taken the littler bit," said Prig.
"Stop kvetching, then, it's what you've got," said Pig.

-------So virtue is its own reward, you see.
-------And that is all it's ever going to be.

Posted by: Deirdre B. at March 2, 2006 3:43 AM

I have a teenager who attends a public High School in Los Angeles and on campus they have a full Health Center that assist them with all their needs in a very professional and open manner. At the Center there are BIG bowls of condom for anyone to take, and every once in awhile venders do come and pass out condoms and info regarding then outside the campus. More education and centers like this is what all teens need.

Posted by: MOM OF A TEEN at March 2, 2006 10:06 AM

Amy-- I adore you, but girls don't get pregnant because they don't know what's going on. They get pregnant because they want to or else because they're too scared to tell the guy to put a hat on it. In most cases, they need to learn to say no with conviction more than they need a lesson with a Trojan and a banana. Leon Dash's reporting still stands up.
And as for the poor can't buy condoms--well, I don't beleive it. Beer, cigarettes and cable TV are in plentiful supply in even the poorest neightborhoods. People need help in learning to make choices with an eye to the long-term, rather than immediate pleasure.

Posted by: KateCOe at March 2, 2006 5:10 PM

People are lazy about condoms - and I recently wrote that they should not teach abstinence but that pregnancy causes debt. That $500 you were going to put into speakers for your car? Breast pumps and diapers. Helloooo, latex!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at March 2, 2006 5:43 PM

Reading this post made me think of a piece I read in the NYRB a while back about something former President Carter wrote. He addressed the promotion of contraception among teenagers from a Pro-Life perspective. I'm sure there are few of you who need statistics to back up the claim that the availability of contraception mitigates teen pregnancy rates, abortion rates, etc., but, just in case, Carter pointed out the painfully obvious.

"Canadian and European young people are about equally active sexually, but, deprived of proper sex education, American girls are five times as likely to have a baby as French girls, seven times as likely to have an abortion, and seventy times as likely to have gonorrhea as girls in the Netherlands. Also, the incidence of HIV/ AIDS among American teenagers is five times that of the same age group in Germany.... It has long been known that there are fewer abortions in nations where prospective mothers have access to contraceptives..."

There's something out there really, really important to Pro-Lifers, apparently. ...and, whatever it is, it appears to be even more important than preventing abortions.

Posted by: Ken Shultz at March 2, 2006 7:38 PM

People are lazy about condoms - and I recently wrote that they should not teach abstinence but that pregnancy causes debt.

Abstinence, well practiced, will prevent pregnancy, I suppose. ...and putting agoraphobia into practice can virtually eliminate automotive related spinal injuries.

I was raised in what most of you would think of as a strict, religious family. ...but I suspect my parents, and my grandparents for that matter, would have thought me odd if I hadn't scored by the time I was 20 or so.

Kids in the fifties used to get married right out of high school, and I suppose they had relatively fewer "problems" with premarital sex, but in my experience, even among the sincerely religious, that generation didn't seem to want their kids to do that.

If parents don't want teens to have access to contraception because they don't want teens to have sex, then they're being even stricter than parents in the fifties were. ...and insisting that teens ignore the pull of evolution is the very definition of unnatural. Oh well, who said people have to be reasonable?

Posted by: Ken Shultz at March 2, 2006 8:13 PM

> They get pregnant because they
> want to or else because they're
> too scared to tell the guy to put
> a hat on it.

Thank you, thank you for saying this. Three times I'd typed out a comment in a passive tone, but then wimped out. (Sample: "Y'know, there's this theory that very few people get pregnant by accident. Education and hardware are not the problem.)

Being a boy-unit of liberal inclination, there's only so much you can say out loud.

Maybe it's a little wrong to say that poor, ill-prepared girls make babies for "immediate pleasure," but it's certain that they're answering nature's Big Throb by doing so... It isn't happening to them because Republicans are oppressive skinflints.

Posted by: Crid at March 2, 2006 11:15 PM

There is no evidence that sex-ed and free condom distribution will lower teen pregnancy by any significant amount:

"if we give birth control to students for free, and tell them how to use it, and urge them to do so, we might increase the number of students using birth control regularly by 22% [memo to study neophytes: that 22% figure does not mean that out of 100 students, 22 more of them are now using contracpetion; it means that whatever smaller group were previously using contracption is now larger by 22% of itself--so if 50% were previously using contraception, 11 more students are now using birth control than were before.]. That's pretty damn underwhelming. And that's the best study Planned Parenthood can come up with, the one that is probably the outlier on the normally distributed bell curve of such study outcomes. I've no doubt that the abstinence folks have grabbed whatever study lies at the other end of the bell curve, and are using it to claim that contraception-based sex ed actually increases the number of pregnancies by teaching students that it's okay to have sex."

Posted by: nash at March 3, 2006 1:28 AM

Crid--they're usually not even answering nature's call. Inner city black girls often come from generations that see having a baby as a rite of passage--that way you're a real woman and no one can mess with you (Leon Dash). Latinas are more likely to be influenced by the romance of the boyfirend and that they're all swept up in passion. Both groups won't use a diaphram (or even tampons) because they believe that dirty, skanky white girls stick stuff "up there" and that to use barrier contraception is gross and condoms are romance-killers. And pills mess you up and they don't want to go and have a pelvic exam, or even have access to a clinic.

But having a baby means that you're an adult, and that you have a purpose and that you have someone to love you and to love. Men come and go, but kids stay with you. It's not immediate passion, but rather immediate status and an answer to a life that's otherwise devoid of purpose.

Posted by: KateCoe at March 3, 2006 4:51 PM

> having a baby means that you're an
> adult, and that you have a purpose
> and that you have someone to love
> you and to love.

Yea verily. For many if not most women, motherhood is the Big Throb. Dr Drew on Loveline crystalized this for me a couple years ago when he described the impulse women feel for childbearing as "erotic"... He did not use the word 'hormonal', though it's safe bet that there's usually some blood chemistry at work, too.

Anyway I agree with what you're saying. When people of the left demand more education (in the Rob Reiner sense) for this or that, I think it starts to smell like facism or mind control or at least political correctness. I hate single motherhood with the incandescent fire of ten thousand scorching suns... But there are good reasons for latinas and negresses be impatient with white people telling them when and when not to reproduce.

Posted by: Crid at March 3, 2006 10:52 PM


When does any government ever get anything right? No matter who is in office it’s about the money, the power and the right to fund one’s views of how the world should work at its best, or lining one’s friends pockets at its worst.

Ronald Regan once said “The most fearful words any American can hear are: Hello, I am the Government and I am here to help you…”

Government can't find money to build roads, fund healthcare. ensure clean water and/or air, or properly fund the legal system so you can exercise your most basic constitutional rights without going bankrupt. No where is that more so than Family Court and how fathers are routinely jettisoned out of their daughters (and sons) lives every day on a stereotype that we are all violent brutes who don’t love our wives and kids and are irresponsible and nothing but deadbeats.

Yet it was more often than woman who initiated the relationship, marriage and now divorce - Powerless women…NOT. Confused - maybe, lacking sense – possibly, immoral – can be, selfish – very often, used as a pawn by lawyers – every day; But powerless no, not when they initiate and end relationships end up with the kids, car, house and support that their legal bill will no longer cover, because they trusted that their lawyer was on their side, not lining their own pockets with ill gotten gain. Oh did I mention naive?

And no I am not some bitter man either - I am an adult child of divorce, with a wonderful woman who is also an adult child of divorce. And on this we both agree: The heartbreak of these pregnant teenage girls is because we “ADULTS REALLY SUCK: when it comes to our values and politics as they affect our kids. Those daughters we shoehorn into Family Court during separation and divorce are more likely to not have a father in their life after all is said and done.

That’s because Family Court and all of its bureaucratic systems are more about money than family and children.

The National Organization of Women (N.O.W.) stopped believing in gender equity and liberation theory of women shortly after the first round of burning bras in the 70’s (whose meaning and symbolism struck most young men deeply, helping to shape our ideas of equality. It helped us to be the good men and fathers most of us are today. Yet when we sought that equality to be allowed an equal place in our family, just like women wanted in the workplace we were denied it, after being told we needed to be fully involved in the first place upon marriage).

N.O.W. also gave up on gender equity unless it was fully funded by men, chucking away the “I can do anything a man can do” philosophy that I bought into and taught our daughter. Instead, N.O.W continues to rely upon flawed and the long discredited research by Lenore J. Weitzman, author of The Divorce Revolution which spawned two of the most well intentioned, yet ill considered pieces of legislation The Bradley Amendment – Debtors Prison for Fathers; and VAWA – both which work to make teenage daughters fatherless.

Daughters who have solid relationships with their fathers are less likely to need a condom, because they are less likely to have teenage sex until they are fully ready to accept its consequences, and those that do, have matured enough to have taken dad's advice – “No Glove - no love...”

A father and daughter's relationship is the best first defense to lowering teenage pregnancy, because no one can explain boys better to a girl than Dad. At least that's what my daughter Elyenne has told me :-) And I tend to believe her - she made it to 20 and has not been pregnant yet. However all of her other friends without exception have been, and in every case there is no dad in the home.

Fathers parent differently than Moms. Both are essential to a child's life and doubly so to a teenagers.

So the problem as you define it does not connect all the dots: The reality is that teenage pregnancy is a compounded result of corrupt government in bed with a corrupted women's movement, compounded by those who blindly accept what they are told without questioning its basis or legitimacy.

Most of us believe in equality, humanism and dignity.

The extremists control the women’s movement today. Many are women who hate men, and see these teenage daughters as easy prey, setting the conditions in which to prey. That’s why most women today aren’t card carrying members of N.O.W. – Add the corrupt in power that use them to garner votes from unsuspecting women. Remember those women who handed it all to a divorce lawyer, thinking they were getting their fair share?

Or their sisters - the ill-informed, or who those women with “issues” who can only blame others rather than accept responsibility for going forward with their lives rather than dwelling on a the misfortunes of the past (and as an adult child of divorce I’ve had huge issues and misfortunes but I chose to survive as did my wonderful wife and my daughter from a previous marriage, unlike her mother “the perpetual victim”…)

If that was not so, If N.O.W. is about true equality, then where are all the women's programs for daughters missing their dads, paternal grandmothers who can no longer see their grandchildren, step-mothers who want to make peace with the ex-wife.

That would lower teenage pregnancy quicker than any condom would for the youngest of our daughters, who do not have the necessary guidance, insight or knowledge that fathers impart to daughters about sex, consequences and boys.

Because then if they were available on every corner, these girls might actually insist on boys using them, because their self-esteem would be enormous, because they have a father who loves them, protects them and teaches them about how boys can be.

And the mere continual daily interaction and presence of the fathers provides these daughters the unconscious role model of what the boys they are considering sleeping with should be: Caring, loving and respectful, even during a teenage affair or hook-up.

At least that is what my evolution as a liberated man tells me. ( I am sure I’m about to take a lot of flak for this post, but it needed saying by someone…)

Fire away.

Danny Guspie
Executive Director

Posted by: Danny Guspie at March 4, 2006 7:03 AM

Hello Amy,

This blog is a little old, but I thought I'd add to it.

Whew! Danny said a mouthful!

I'm a Christian-- the kind that believes in abstinence until marriage. I have a daughter, and I'm an adult child of divorce.

Amy, you have a great point, and I've debated this many times with many people. Condoms are important, and should be available to everybody. In North America, in Africa, as in Europe. With our sex-focused society, kids with raging hormones just can't be expected to abstain en masse. So I’m all for the active promotion of condoms here in North America and abroad.

I agree with Danny 110%. Dads,--the lack of dads active in their kid’s lives-- is a big part of the problem. The lack of dads is more relevant than the condom issue when it comes to teenage pregnancy. Here’s why:

How many single moms are their in poor neighbourhoods? Wouldn’t that be a significant factor in teenage pregnancy you’re mentioning here? Teenage pregnancy is a vicious circle. Kids of single parents are more likely to be single parents, too. That’s just common sense.

Without a dad around, kids aren’t being raised in a balanced way. Where is dad, ready to scare away the bad boys when daughter starts dating? Where is dad to teach young Johnny proper conduct with a woman? No wonder teenage pregnancy is so high. No condom could be better protection than a loving, devoted father, active in his kids lives.

Here, here, Danny!


Posted by: Liam at October 29, 2007 12:42 PM

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