Besse: support new teen pregnancy prevention rules

We have a chance to stop state funding for the ineffective and misleading, so-called "abstinence only" curricula in community teen pregnancy prevention programs. Please email the N.C. Commission on Public Health today in support of comprehensive, medically accurate sexuality and health education.

I've just submitted my own comments to the N.C. Commission on Public Health, in SUPPORT of their proposed rule changes, which would require that any teen pregnancy prevention program include comprehensive, medically accurate information about contraceptive methods including [but NOT limited to] abstinence, in order to be eligible for state funding.

The Commission's deadline for public comments on the proposed rule change is January 14. Comments can be submitted to the Commission via email to (Refer to the proposed changes to 10A NCAC 43A.0808, Criteria for Project Selection, new subparagraphs (a)(3)and(4).)

During the years I've spent working with health care professionals and counselors in Planned Parenthood, I've learned that teen pregnancy programs work best when they encourage abstinence AND provide accurate information about contraceptive methods. Parents tell me that they want their children to have access to this information. Just as important, they don't want their children's health put at greater risk by the ignorance spread by so-called "abstinence-only" programs in their communities.

I traveled to the General Assembly last year to speak out in favor for comprehensive, medically accurate sexuality and health education in our public schools. As Lieutenant Governor, I will use my influence in both the legislative and executive branches to support making comprehensive, medically-accurate health education available to our young people.

Now, I'm encouraging parents, teachers, doctors, nurses, and others who work with our young people, to tell the Commission for Public Health that you support comprehensive, medically accurate health education. Let's ensure that a minority of political ideologues don't keep us from doing the right thing for our youth.

Dan Besse
Democrat for Lieutenant Governor


What a relief . . .

I just got the Besse campaign email on this same topic and was thinking, okay, do I really have the energy to do what needs doing with this good news. And lo and behold it's here at BlueNC as a post! Very wonderful. Thank you, thank you.

Abstinence only seems to be important on two levels. First of course, is the core issue itself. It would not be un-generous to use the word "insane" to describe our current public policy in this area.

The second level is political. Abstinence-only is a great example of Republican faith-based policy at its worst.

Faith-based policy is currently being developed on many policy fronts. Energy. Climate change. Strategic intelligence. Market deregulation. Charter schools. Fiscal responsibility. Health. In every case, wishful thinking replaces reality, with the not surprising result that the policies don't actually work. (Democrats aren't immune to this charge, of course. It's really a matter of degree.)

There is a word for this phenomenon: Incompetence. And in the case of abstinence only, the incompetence has disastrous consequences.


PS. I'll keep saying this until somebody besides me listens: Robin Hayes is responsible for the abstinence-only fiasco in North Carolina. That same lack of appreciation for reality followed him to Washington, too.

Dan thanks for making sense on this issue

as the mother of a teenage boy, I especially appreciate this. I have embarrassed him by opening the topic of sex education (and then letting it drop), only to have him bring it up again at a later date. We've discussed the mechanics of sex, and the emotions of sex. He does not, right now, have a steady girl friend (he'll love that I posted that on the internet), but he does have a supply of condoms that he went to the health department to get. And I told him to tell his friends to do the same. The only thing I didn't do was teach him how to put one on - I thought that would cross the line into creepy. I just told him to practice so that when the time came, he wouldn't struggle with it.

His school system doesn't teach anything but abstinence. I also taught him about birth control pills and how they work, what they do and don't do, diaphragms, IUDs, and any other contraceptive devices I could find out about online. But I sure would have rather that information come from a health professional who knew more about what he or she was talking about.

I will send my comments today.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Excellent comment and replies!

On a subject that was debated since the late 50s(?), it is amazing we're still doing this. But these comments are well thought out, and I certainly couldn't add anymore.

how did that 1950s teaching work for us?

Certainly in that decade, abstinence was the ONLY thing given to teens as a choice. Still, with the risk of unwanted pregnancy even higher(ruinous to a girl's reputation; no opportunity for safe, legal abortion) - the highest number of teen pregnancies still were a highlight of that "golden" decade. We had more shotgun weddings, more unwed mother homes, and funny enough, teens still kept having sex, darn them!

Politicians should be absolutely clear on this: While we have aspirations for our children to live according to our morality, we must accept the science and research that tells us what will protect them THE MOST. We do not want them in car accidents, so we MANDATE that they wear seat belts. We do not want them uneducated, so we MANDATE that they receive an education. We must accept that while most of us do not want them in immature sexual relationships, we even more want to prevent unwanted pregnancy and disease, and therefore, we must give them ALL the knowledge available for their health and wellbeing.