Precipitating the need for this bill was data showing that the "United States has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the developed world, and the state of Colorado ranks 22 in the nation in total teen pregnancies" (approximately 12,100 girls become pregnant before the age of 18). The bill further suggests that an "estimated 20 percent of teen pregnancies in Colorado will result in abortions."
Not surprisingly, this bill is strongly opposed by the Colorado Catholic Conference, a group that claims the law “will undercut the effectiveness of abstinence-only teaching”. Justin Rigali, a Philadelphia Cardinal recently informed the U.S. legislature that “so-called ‘comprehensive’ sex education programs that mention abstinence within the discussion of premarital sexual experimentation are not an appropriate alternative.”
However, the information presented in House Bill 1292 does not appear to agree with Cardinal Rigali’s views. The bill explains that
“current research documents the fact that those individuals who receive early, comprehensive, age-appropriate, and medically accurate education regarding the health benefits and other benefits derived from sexual abstinence, family planning, and birth control are more likely to delay sexual activity and engage in such activity with a higher degree of responsibility and safety.”In fact, according to a recent statement made by Govenor Ritter, “preventing unintended pregnancies, especially among teenagers, is important…If a school district and a student so choose, this legislation allows educators to help students develop skills that will enable them to make responsible and healthy decisions.”
If you ask me, this seems like a logical approach; one that aims to meet the objectives that both Pro-Life and Pro-Choice groups agree on: the need to lower the abortion rate in the US. Accurate information leads to informed decisions. It is no secret that the effectivenss of abstinence-only education has been openly challenged, and the recent results from a multi-year study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services show that these programs do not have an impact on sexual abstinence of youth. I believe that, it is not only practical, but absolutely necessary to teach youth about birth control options. Abstinence is a wonderful goal that teenagers should strive to attain, for a majority of reasons; yet in my experience, it seems that vows of abstinence tend to break a lot more frequently than condoms do.
What do you think? I welcome your comments on this issue - just click the "comments" link below.
- House Bill 1292 in its entirety.
Sex Education Photo Courtesy of Microsoft Online