Politics & Policy

Crazy or Wright?

Planned Parenthood's infectious sex-ed program.

Some 1,700 years ago, a hermit living in the Egyptian desert predicted “a time is coming when people will go mad.”

“And when they see someone who is not mad,” continued the man known today as St. Anthony the Great, “they will attack him, saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.’”

These days, Concerned Women for America President Wendy Wright is on the receiving end of that peculiar brand of madness.

To MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, Wright is “the worst person in the world.” To The Nation’s Jessica Valenti, she “does a huge disservice to young women.” And to prominent left-wing bloggers, who tend to be a bit less reserved, Wright has “left the world of reality and entered a state of delusion” (News Hounds) and “really is nuts” (Pam’s House Blend).

What did she do to earn such outrage? Interviewed for a Dec. 31 Fox News segment on the debate over federal funding for abstinence education, Wright claimed groups that oppose funding for such programs really want teens to choose sex.

“In fact, they want to encourage that,” she said,

because they benefit when kids end up having sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies, and then they lead them into having abortions. So you have to look at the financial motives of those promoting comprehensive sex ed.

Although Wright didn’t mention any specific abstinence opponent in the interview clip, there is little doubt she meant Planned Parenthood.

The nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood lobbies tirelessly for the de-funding of abstinence efforts in favor of “comprehensive sex education” programs in public schools — formulated by Planned Parenthood, of course.

There is no question that Planned Parenthood benefits enormously from bringing its educators into schools. High school and college-age clients make up the majority of its business. According to the organization’s 2006 annual report, some 70 percent of its customers are under the age of 25 – and 27 percent are under the age of 20.

And make no mistake about it, despite the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s nonprofit status, it is a business — a $908 million one that earned $55.8 million in income over expenses in fiscal 2006. Those excess funds were made possible by over $300 million in taxpayer dollars, more than three times the amount that the federal government spent on abstinence education that same year.

While Planned Parenthood claims that procedures aimed at causing un-parenthood comprise “only” 3 percent of its services, abortions remain the organization’s biggest moneymaker. Its affiliates performed a record 264,943 terminations last year.

Abstinence opponents argue that comprehensive sex education, with its focus on contraceptive methods, reduces teen pregnancy and, therefore, abortions. As Olbermann deadpanned in his hit job on Wright, “And the condoms the sex educators keep trying to make available to the kids, those are for what . . . water balloons?”

Judging by the effect their availability has on abortion rates, they might as well be. According to the Guttmacher Institute, which was founded by Planned Parenthood and maintains strong ties to it, six in ten women having abortions experienced a contraceptive failure.

Another major portion of Planned Parenthood’s business — and the focus of much of its outreach to teenagers, is testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

By all accounts, infection rates are skyrocketing nationwide. A study published last September in the Californian Journal of Health Promotion reported that during 2005, there were 1.1 million new cases of STDs among 15-24-year-olds in the Golden State alone — ten times what was previously estimated. Assuming the estimate is correct, one out of every four Californians in that age group is infected with a disease such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HPV, or HIV.

To hear Planned Parenthood’s spokespeople tell it, the increased incidence of STDs can be blamed on one thing: government-funded abstinence-education programs that fail to promote condom use.

There’s just one problem with that argument: According to the state’s Department of Education website, a 2003 statewide survey found that 96 percent of California school districts provided comprehensive sexual health education (read: condom instruction) and all its schools have been required to teach HIV/AIDS prevention education (read: more condom instruction) since 1992. Planned Parenthood’s educators have long been welcome in school districts across California, and in 1996 the state became the first to reject federal funding for abstinence programs.

In other words, in the state that best models Planned Parenthood’s brand of “comprehensive sexual education,” the approach has failed to do one of the main things it is supposed to do: prevent disease.

Wright’s claim that Planned Parenthood intends its sex-ed to fail, causing students to require treatment for disease and pregnancy, remains inflammatory and perhaps unprovable — unless more stories turn up like the 2005 Consumer Reports analysis rating Planned Parenthood’s condoms the poorest quality of any major brand. Those who ridicule her, however, ultimately reveal their own failure to grasp and acknowledge the reality of the situation.

For an estimated 1.1 million STD sufferers and their parents — and the taxpayers who fund Planned Parenthood’s treatment of the youths — the real “state of delusion” is California.

Dawn Eden is author of The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On.

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