A reporter from the Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News Capitol bureau caught a Texas legislator arguing Tuesday night that sex education gets previously chaste teens so “hot and bothered” that they can’t even use contraception correctly after rushing out the door to do some unauthorized field testing.
Check out the audio clip of the conversation among state Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, and state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin. The three were speaking just minutes after the House State Affairs Committee approved legislation with extreme abortion restrictions that could cause most of the state’s clinics to close. Rep. Howard was explaining to her colleagues that responsible sex education, including information on birth control, would lower the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. Rep. Toth didn’t agree:
“My wife worked at a home for unwed moms, and one of the little kids that was born, his name is David. David came about as a result of his mom and dad, who were just 16 at the time, going to a Planned Parenthood deal where they taught them how to use contraceptives. They were not sexually active at that point. They got into the car, and they were so hot and bothered from this deal, he couldn’t even get the condom on.”
If you listen to the rest of the clip, you’ll hear an exasperated Rep. Howard asking her colleagues to move beyond absurd anecdotes and provide some real data to back up their arguments. Needless to say, they have no data to provide. Rep. Toth and Rep. Zedler, like so many of their colleagues at the Capitol, apparently prefer to legislate by anecdote. But we can point to some real facts on sex education:
- A 2012 study found no evidence that formal sex education leads teens to initiate sexual activity earlier or to engage in greater risk taking.
- A November 2007 report explained that “two-thirds of the 48 comprehensive programs that supported both abstinence and the use of condoms and contraceptives for sexually active teens had positive behavioral effects.” Many either delayed or reduced sexual activity, reduced the number of sexual partners, or increased condom or contraceptive use. None of the comprehensive programs hastened the initiation of sex or increased the frequency of sex.
- Access to effective contraception dramatically reduces unplanned pregnancy and abortion.
But don’t bother telling Rep. Toth any of this. He’s too busy passing along absurd anecdotes and trying to get government to interfere in the private medical decisions women make.
You can help the Texas Freedom Network get our state’s lawmakers focused on real issues and real data. Sign our petition calling on Gov. Perry to address the state’s teen pregnancy crisis by adding a new item for lawmakers to address in the special legislative session: ending the state’s promotion of failed abstinence-only programs and installing policies that ensure teaching about birth control, along with abstinence, in high school sex education classes.
UPDATE: Reporter David Rauf has a post up now providing a bit more background about his audio clip of the Howard-Toth-Zedler conversation.