Roundup: Rising Teen Pregnancy, McCain Defends Sex Ed Ad

Brady Swenson

South Carolina added to growing list of states with rising teen pregnancy rates; John McCain stands behind his misleading sex education ad; Catholic Church fighting birth control in Philippines; Where is Palin on birth control?; John McCain advocates choice, just not that choice; Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie donate to open HIV clinic in Ethiopia.

South Carolina Latest State to Show Rising Teen Pregnancy Rates

South Carolina’s Department of Health recently published data confirming that the state has joined the national trend of rising teen pregnancy rates. The numbers show that South Carolina, like many other states and the nation as a whole, had experienced a decade of diminishing teen pregnancy rates from 1994 to 2004 when the trend reversed:

More than 10,000 girls between the ages of 10 and 19 got pregnant in
South Carolina in 2006, the most recent data available from the state
Department of Health and Environmental Control.

That’s nearly 36
of every 1,000 girls that age, and more than a quarter of those girls
had been pregnant before. The rate reached a low of 33 of every 1,000
girls three years earlier. Teen pregnancy rates had declined 25 percent
in South Carolina from 1994 to 2004.

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In addition to the personal difficulties in a young person’s life that teen pregnancy can cause there are also economic costs to the individual and to society that can make a difference in an ailing economy.  In South Carolina alone teen pregnancies were estimated to cost taxpayers $156 million in 2004:

Rising teen pregnancy rates often mean other social problems end up
getting worse. Teen mothers are more likely to drop out of school
without graduating and end up in poverty. Alton’s group estimates
taxpayers spent $156 million to pay for the consequences of teen
pregnancy in 2004.

The rising rates of teen pregnancy around the country have spurred nearly half of the nation’s states to refuse sizable federal grants to teach abstinence-only sex education, a failed Bush policy that John McCain continues to support.  In fact just today an opinion piece in the Lexington Herald-Journal urged Kentucky lawmakers to reject $820,000 and remain on the growing list of states that have rejected money to teach abstinence-only sex education.


John McCain Defends Misleading Ad on Sex Edcuation

This morning on MSNBC’s Morning Joe John McCain was asked by Joe Scarborough if McCain’s misleading sex education ad was "fair."  McCain replied "Read the language of the bill. Go on our website. That’s exactly the language of the bill."  The bill in question can be found at the Illinois General Assembly website.  But the most crucial part of the bill to keep in mind is Section two lines 12 and 13 that read "all course material and instruction shall be age and developmentally appropriate."  The bill was intended, in part, to help kindergarten aged children understand when they are being abused. You can see video of the exchange here.


Catholic Bishops Fight to Block Reproductive Health Care Bill in Philippines

The government in the Philippines is considering a bill that would use public funds to provide contraceptives and abortion access.  The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country that has historically rejected modern forms of reproductive health care.  The Catholic Church is doing everything it can in to win the battle over birth control in Manila:

THE Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines yesterday renewed
its tirades against proponents of artificial birth control in Congress,
branding them “false prophets who are trying to impose a new morality
upon the nation.”

Through Pampanga Archbishop Paciano Aniceto, the CBCP
called on the faithful to unite and reject the “new morality which
offends all notions of right and wrong, good and bad, and rejects the
very truth we have received from God.”

Aniceto, chairman of CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on
Family and Life, warned lawmakers against trying to propagate false and
harmful doctrines that have already misled countless men and women
around the world, and caused the moral and spiritual ruin of their
lives and souls.


Where Were the Followup Questions on Reproductive Health, Charlie?

During the first, and only, sit down interview Governor Sarah Palin has permitted since becoming the GOP nominee for Vice President ABC’s Charlie Gibson asked her about Roe v. Wade. The mainstream media simply does not get that there is much more to reproductive health than abortion and Michele Swenson, in the Huffington Post, appropriately asks, "What about birth control, Mr. Gibson?":

After asking Sarah Palin if she opposes abortion, did it occur to
you that the logical follow-up would be to ask her about her opposition
to birth control? Perhaps not widely known because it is not widely
reported, the fact is, the same folks who oppose abortion just as
adamantly oppose contraception, the primary means to decrease the rate
of abortion.

Too often the media focus has been very narrow, failing to convey
the broader picture. Issues are effectively reported using talking
points and framing that is developed in right-wing think tanks for the
purpose of distortion and distraction. The media thrives on controversy
and sensationalism. Approached superficially, the issue of abortion
provides both.


John McCain’s Choice

Nica Lalli, also in Huffington Post, writes of her favorite line in John McCain’s acceptance speech a couple weeks ago:

We believe in a government that unleashes the creativity and
initiative of Americans. Government that doesn’t make your choices for
you, but works to make sure you have more choices to make for yourself.

That sounds like a great idea — except that the only choices John McCain, George Bush and much of the leadership are really only concerned about are, for instance, providing a broader range of health insurance profiteers for you to choose from:

I assume, sadly, that he was talking about all the choices other than a
woman’s right to choose whether to keep or abort a fetus. I assume that
he wants people to have options in every other part of their lives
except for this one, the one the affects mostly women, the one that can
shatter a woman’s life, the one that the Republican Platform wrongly
refers to as "a culture of life." I call it the reality of anti- choice.

What is important to remember this November is that there is a better way to approach these reproductive health issues, an approach that does in fact provide more choices for you to make for yourself.  Consensus is developing around a more holistic approach that ensures women’s and children’s basic needs can be met so that the choice to have a child is actually a practical one for a woman to make.  Such policy could accurately be said to "work hard to make sure you have more choices for yourself."


Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt Donate $2 Million for HIV Clinic in Ethiopia 

The celebrity couple is giving back to the country where their daughter Zahara was born:

The couple have donated $2 million to help fight HIV/AIDS and
tuberculosis in Ethiopia, said the Global Health Committee, which
announced the donation by the Jolie-Pitt Foundation.

organization will use the money to build a center in the capital city
of Addis Ababa for children affected by the disease and establish a
program to treat tuberculosis in children and adults. The center will
be named for Zahara.

The World Health Organization estimates that
the African nation has 1.7 million people infected with HIV and 6,000
people infected with drug-resistant tuberculosis.

"It is our hope
when Zahara is older she will take responsibility of the clinic and
continue its mission," Pitt, 44, said in a statement.


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