"Punished" With a Baby?

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Mar 31, 2008 11:54 AM
Over at Ben Smith's Politico blog, there is a attention-getting quote from Barack Obama, discussing sex education in schools:

"Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old," Obama said. "I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information." 

Is this simply inartful phrasing -- or is it the kind of remark that inadvertently reveals the mindset of many of those who are, like Barack, at the extreme of the pro-choice movement, where a baby is less a life that's worthy of respect and protection than it is simply an undeserved "punishment" for those who've engaged in ill-advised sexual activity?

One final comment: Those who are in favor of the Planned Parenthood/SIECUS approach to sex ed -- you know, where children spend class time putting condoms on bananas -- often try to set up the same false dichotomy employed by Barack above.

The real choice isn't about whether we teach young people to exercise sexual restraint or else we "give them information."  The choice is whether we have the moral confidence -- and the social  consensus -- that's required to teach young people that casual sex at a tender age is wrong, or whether we just treat it as another decision, like whether to have pizza or hamburgers for lunch. 

There is a world of difference in knowing how one's body works, where babies come from, and that contraception is available for use when one is older and it is appropriate to be having sexual relations, on the one hand -- and, on the other, being "given information" that implicitly encourages and facilitates teen sex by conveying a message that sexual activity on the part of teens isn't just normal, it's expected.