Monday, March 19, 2007

Fertility and the Religious Right

"Should teenage girls be taught to recognize the physical signs that indicate when they are most likely to become pregnant?" Seems like a good idea, but this is about sex, teenage girls, and comprehensive sex education -- so of course it's controversial.

Health educator Toni Weschler, who wrote "Taking Charge of Your Fertility", received hundreds of letters from women who read the book and said they wish someone had shared the information with them sooner. Imagine, empowering women and girls about their sexuality -- run for the hills!

Weschler's response was to publish a teens version of her book titled: "Cycle Savvy: The Smart Teen's Guide to the Mysteries of Her Body"

"You can't imagine how challenging it was to do in a way that respected the intelligence of teens," Weschler says. "All I can say is, I will never be a politician."
Reaction to the book tends to fall along the expected political lines, and how the person/group views comprehensive sex education vs. the abstinence-only approach.

Vanessa Cullins, vice president for medical affairs at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, takes the line that better-informed teenagers make better decisions: "Time and again," she says, "research has shown that giving information to adolescents about reproduction and sexuality will not lead to promiscuity and will only arm teens with information that they need whenever they decide to become sexually active."

But Janice Crouse, senior fellow at Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute, disagrees. "I think it is inappropriate. Instead, I think that we need high ideals for our teenagers, to teach them the value of self-control because those are disciplines that you need for your whole life. Providing this type of information says that teenagers are hostages to their hormones."
In what I think is a surprising response, Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women's Forum -- a fake feminist organization -- says:

"Any time you give young people information, there is the potential for them to misapply that knowledge," Lukas says, "but that is not a reason to warn people away from this book."
I'm sure she will take heat for her comment at the next IWF meeting.

And speaking of controversy, it seems there is more than a little controversy brewing among religious right activists. It seems the big debate is about whether or not to keep the movement's focus on abortion, marriage and sexual chastity -- or scrap that approach as too narrow.

The founders of the religious right, now in the twilight of their leadership, see even the suggestion of expanding the agenda as a dangerous distraction. In public, and sometimes in personal ways, they are trying to beat back the challenge.
Reminds me of the song "What's the matter with kids" from Bye, Bye Birdie. Can't you just see Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Dobson singing it as you read this!

Pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren got a slap on the wrist for inviting Sen. Barack Obama to speak at an AIDS summit at his church. Obama does, after all, support abortion rights.

And Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, and other conservatives, pressured the National Association of Evangelicals to silence its Washington director, the Rev. Rich Cizik. What had he done that needed to be silenced? Cizik tried to convince evangelicals that global warming is real, and something they should be concerned about.

Dobson's tactic not only failed, it seemed to backfire. The NAE not only stood by Cizik, but it endorsed a critique of U.S. policy toward terror detainees called "An Evangelical Declaration Against Torture: Protecting Human Rights in an Age of Terror."

This is kind of amazing when you consider these are conservative evangelicals speaking out against the policies of a Republican president when the country is at war. No wonder Bush's approval rating is so low.

If religious right evangelicals keep this up presidential hopefuls like McCain, Giuliani, and Romney are going to have to visit every mega-church in the country just to have a chance of winning the nomination.

Don't count Jerry, Pat or James out completely. They still hold sway with politically active evangelicals. And we all know that once the Republicans select their nominee, that person can pretty much count on evangelical support.


Tengrain said...

Great post, BAC.



BAC said...

I love your recent stuff too, but your spam filter REALLY LOVES my comments ... ugh!


ps: Blue Gal and I talked about some fun stuff today ... that I think you might want to be part of! I'll keep you posted!