At yesterday’s White House Press Briefing, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan congratulated the President’s work to reduce the number of abortions:
[On] the issue of abortion, the President has made it very clear that there are ways — common sense, practical ways that we can work together to reduce the number of abortions in America. And he has worked to do that, if you look at what we have done, by placing a ban on partial birth abortion, by supporting efforts to increase adoption. The President is strongly committed to finding ways we can work together to reduce the number of abortions in America.
It’s a rather limited effort if the administration is reducing the number of abortions only by working to reduce the number of pregnancies that end in abortion. It’s like hacking away at the branches instead of going after the roots. The fact is that “the United States has among the highest rates of unintended pregnancies of all industrialized nations. Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and nearly half of those end in abortion.” An obvious way to reduce the number of pregnancies that end in abortion is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in the first place. Unfortunately, one of the President’s favorite initiatives — abstinence only education — may actually be counterproductive to this effort.
In updating its teen pregnancy policy, a leading group of experts — the American Academy of Pediatrics — stated that “Even though there is great enthusiasm in some circles for abstinence-only interventions, the evidence does not support abstinence-only interventions as the best way to keep young people from unintended pregnancy.” Instead, “teaching abstinence but not birth control makes it more likely that once teenagers initiate sexual activity they will have unsafe sex and contract sexually transmitted diseases.”
By continuing to pursue abstinence only education, President Bush is prioritizing conservatism over compassion and undermining his own efforts to reduce the number of abortions in our nation.