Abstinence-Only in Rep. Spitzer’s District

First things first: a big round of applause for Texas Monthly‘s R.G. Ratcliffe, who dug up this info. We encourage you to venture over to the magazine’s website to ready his piece.

Here are some interesting numbers Ratcliffe dug up:

75758: 180
75756: 74
75770: 55
75763: 61
75751: 46*
75148: 100
75124: 63
75143: 91
75158: 49
75142: 67
75160: 97
75126: 67
75161: 35*
75114: 34*
75147: 18*
75778: 24*

Random numbers? No. As you probably guessed, the first number is a zip code. The number after the zip code is the number of teen pregnancies per 1,000 teenagers in that zip code. The asterisk indicates a teen pregnancy rate for that zip code that is below the average rate for the entire state, which is 47 for every 1,000 teenagers. Only 5 of those 16 zip codes are below the state’s rate.

What all those zip codes have in common is that they’re in the state House district represented by Rep. Stuart Spitzer, R-Kaufman.

A couple of nights ago, during the House debate on the state budget, Spitzer drew plenty of attention to himself when he successfully lobbied 96 of his colleagues to strip $3 million from HIV and STD prevention programs and then send those funds to abstinence-only education.

During the debate, Spitzer admitted that abstinence-only education “may not be working well.” To be clear, it’s not. And, anecdotally, thanks to Ratcliffe, we can say it is definitely not working in Spitzer’s district, where the schools teach abstinence-only yet the teen pregnancy rate is way beyond what it is in the rest of the state.

So when Spitzer and his supporters say — as Gov. Perry famously did — “abstinence works,” remind them that abstinence-only education doesn’t. Sadly, though, in this instance Spitzer and his colleagues were willing to defund a program whose mission is to save lives (and does) and instead use the money for an ideologically driven policy that has been shown, repeatedly, to be failure.

5 thoughts on “Abstinence-Only in Rep. Spitzer’s District

  1. Abstinence works, of course it does. But what is a teenager going to do when their hormones kick in?
    Back a few thousand years ago people had to get married early because they were not going to live that long. Evolution hasn’t caught up with when hormones kick in.
    The idiot that drags his knuckles hasn’t the foggiest idea of what not teaching about the birds and the bees causes: Babies!
    The best way to lower all STDs is to use prevention rather than telling kids to hold off ’till marriage.
    How do they think THEY got here?

  2. I’ve often said that Texas is a microcosm of the kind of country that radical religious-right Republicans want the United States to become. In their fantasy, abstinence is the only type of sexual health education that children receive, and in their Republican dreams abstinence works, and then they won’t have sex until they are married! But Republicans are defined by wishful, fantastical, dreamy thinking, and then they get angry when reality doesn’t match their delusions. So the teenage girls must suffer for their actions, and they should suffer, so no easy abortions for them. They must be forced to face the consequences of their ignorant actions and bear the unplanned and unwanted children. But wait–the girls are only ignorant because we deliberately kept them ignorant. We abstinence-only Republicans refused to give them the comprehensive sexual health education they needed and deserved. And now our teenage unmarried pregnancy rate in Texas is five times the rate in the north and ten times the rate in Europe (where sex is treated as part of life and the facts aren’t kept hidden from teenage girls).

    I’m not being facetious. Numerous studies show that a desire to punish teenage girls for having unmarried sex is the real reason behind abstinence-only sex education and anti-abortion policies. Certainly not a mendaciously claimed pro-life agenda, since radical religious-right Tea Party Republicans have demonstrated again and again that they have no desire to protect or nurture human life, whether they are unwed mothers or not. Once the fetus is born, they forget about it, and deny working class citizens the benefits of expanded federally-funded Medicaid, reproductive health access, and similar programs. Next come the lethal crusades against Muslims, the endless foreign wars to sustain our defense industries, the anti-human economic, environmental, and public health policies, and…well, you know. I would just be repeating myself!

  3. Since when does religious ideology take over a state or, for that matter, the entire country?

  4. To tag onto Beverly’s comment – it should be noted that hormones kick in now even earlier than before -thanks to the hormones being fed into our food supply via hormone laced milk, beef, pork, etc. I’m so tired of the puritanical ideology being shoved down our throats. It’s exhausting.

  5. Sure, Spitzer acts like a narrow-minded ideologue, but what about the other 96 colleagues? Why should they get off without a mention? Seems to me the problem is a lot deeper than one wingnut.