Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
Hamlet, Price of Denmark, William Shakespere, 1646.
Sometimes, Porcupine gets out his sword, polishes the blade to defend someone, only to have the issue seemingly lapse. This appeared to have happened with Governor Romney last week, but it appears that comment is instead warranted.
Last week, Governor Romney announced a program to add abstinence education in addition to existing sex education programs. Melissa Kogut of Mass NARAL and Angus McQuillken of Planned Parenthood immediately decried this as a fascist mind control program. “The Governor doesn’t seem to mind putting the children of Massachusetts at risk as he travels the country in his Presidential run,” sniffed McQuillken. Mr. McQuillken feels strongly that abstinence should not be part of sex education. It will lead to increased teen pregnancy by making them ignorant of proper birth control. The fact that it was to be in addition to existing birth control teaching is irrelevant. They might think it was the only way, or be absent on Condom Day, or something.
Porcupine was ready to defend the Governor’s common-sense stance, but the whole thing got only a half-paragraph in the Boston papers, and seemed to be on its way to a peaceful enactment.
Ah, but then there’s the budget process. The inimitable Ruth Balser, D-Newton, offered Amendment #219, which would scotch abstinence education in the schools. This was brought forward as part of a Consolidated Health Care amendment by Rep. DeLeo with a grand total of $71.3 million. Health Chairman Peter Koutoujian, speaking on behalf of the amendment said, “With this amendment we were able to do a lot of great things. We were able to add $300,000 family health programs, $500,000 for early intervention programs, $150,000 for school health services. These are targeted allocations that will impact our most vulnerable populations. Efforts will not only lead to long-term reductions in the cost of health care, but help those who need it most now. We have also included an $8 million increase in the salary reserve for direct care workers, raising it from $20 million to $28 million. We have $1.5 million for Project Bread. These are additions to an already generous House budget, such as $1 million for school health services. I believe this is an important step to protecting the health and safety of the public. I hope it passes.” It also includes $500,000 for a ‘dialogue’ on racial diversity in the City of Boston (who said talk was cheap?), $100,000 for Russian teens at risk in Boston, and over $4 million, primarily in Boston and Metro-West, for Boys & Girls clubs and YMCA/YWCA clubs – without a penny for Cape Cod. (We DO get $150,000 for rabies bait, $125,000 for a drug court and $100,000 for Lyme Disease). And of course, our friends at Silent Spring will get to blow through another $3 million trying to prove the military causes breast cancer in their ten year old ‘study’. The Town of Orange – by itself – gets $100,000 in teen pregnancy prevention money. That must have been some prom they had!
That is all fine and dandy, but the cessation of abstinence education is still included.
Minority Leader Jones said that, “Those on either side of the issue, we have decided to have a debate at a later date relative to whether the state ought to accept money from the federal government relative to abstinence education. Obviously the outcome of that debate has not been decided, but we will have the debate.” It appears to Porcupine that Rep. Jones has been snookered – the language striking the abstinence education is still in the Budget, and the debate will come over the inevitable veto by Governor Romney, which will likely be overridden. If he has not actually been snookered, the best that can be said is that he is not willing to extend himself to protect his Governor’s newly minted program in an election year. And if he thinks Sal DiMasi wants to hold this debate this year, without Democrats to hold his feet to the fire too, he’s crazy. Voice-vote override, here we come!
One thing that Governor Romney said when introducing the program stuck with Porcupine. “As I travel about the state and listen to parents, not one has ever said to me, ‘Gee, I don’t think my kids are getting enough sex education in school. What they HAVE said to me is, Gee. I wish my kids could get some support for the choice they’ve made not to be sexually active until they’re older’.
Indeed. The Koguts and McQuilkens can fume that these parents are delusional, and their kids are SO sexually active – but what does it hurt to remind them that this is a life defining choice, to begin a sex life, and there is no shame or harm in postponing it until they are older?