Yet Another False Equivalency
On November 13 Nicholas Kristof wrote an op-ed in the New York Times entitled “Politicians, Teens, and Birth Control”, which commented on the poor state of American teenagers’ sexual knowledge and health. He mentioned in his column that the American teenage birth rate is three times that of Spain’s; five times that of France’s; and fifteen times that of Switzerland’s, and talked about the need in this country for comprehensive sex education and the ready availability of contraceptives. But his otherwise excellent essay was marred by his assertion that neither Democrats nor Republicans are interested in investing in effective birth control programs. He mentioned that the Affordable Care Act “provides free access to all forms of contraception”, but failed to mention that in 2015 the only thing that will prevent a Republican Congress from repealing the ACA will be a Democratic President’s veto pen, and that it was five Republican Supreme Court Justices whose decision in the Hobby Lobby case has put the ACA’s contraception mandate at risk. It is Republicans, not Democrats, who are de-funding Planned Parenthood clinics all over the country. When Republican Governor (and possible presidential contender) Rick Perry was asked why Texas continued to use an abstinence-only sex education program in its schools despite the fact that it clearly wasn’t working (Texas has the third highest teen pregnancy rate in the country), he replied “because I know it works”. Never mind trifles like research, statistics and science, Governor Perry just “knows” it works. Republicans don’t seem to care much for science, especially when it conflicts with their pre-conceived (pun intended) notions, which is most of the time. What Kristof fails to acknowledge is that if Democrats tried to increase Title X family planning funding, as he recommends, they know they could never get such an increase through either a Republican dominated House or Senate, no less both. Any sentient being who follows this issue knows that it is conservative Republicans (and at this point there aren’t any other kind of Republicans), and not Democrats, who are preventing our country from having a sane and effective policy on reproductive health. Positing a false equivalency on this issue, as Kristof does, will not solve the problem. It is also not the truth.