One of the worst problems in American politics is that once a wingnut myth takes off, it never dies, no matter how much evidence you can marshal against it. There are people who will go to their graves believing that there was a good reason to think that Saddam Hussein was hiding WMDs as part of his plot to re-blow-up the World Trade Center after he personally crashed a plane into it the first time. Or, as a less hyperbolic but still baffling example, my dentist told me a couple of weeks ago that she still, in the year 2008, has to talk down patients who are in a full blown panic about fluoridated drinking water.
Which is why the second I heard the words “pregnancy pact” on the TV, I realized two things at once: a) there was no fucking way and b) no matter how much evidence you marshaled to prove that there was no fucking way, wingnuts would believe that gangs of teenage girls are roaming the countryside, sucking up sperm from hapless men with their succubi cunts of doom in order to get their hands on that diamond-jewelry-buying welfare cash. The fact that the movie “Juno” was blamed was just an added bonus, and evidence that teaching women such as screenwriter Diablo Cody to read and write was the first step on the road to teenage sluttitude hell.
Well, here’s the no fucking way part: Turns out the principal, in his desperation to prove the nay-sayers that suggest that making contraception available to teenagers might help them contracept, made up the pregnancy pact. His main source was, contrary to his initial claims, not the school nurses’ office, but the gossip in the school hallways, which as we all recall has an accuracy rate nearing utter perfection.
Okay, so school gossip isn’t accurate, but my grasp on what legends will never die seems to be hitting it out of the park—after recovering slightly from being proven fools once again, the Wingnutteria is coming back with, “So what if the pregnancy pact wasn’t true? Let’s believe it is anyway, because it’s politically useful for denying girls access to contraception.” “Fuck reality, we’ll believe what we want to!” has been working for a long time with wingnuts, on everything from the War on Terra to global warming, so there’s no reason for them not to resort to that tactic here.
Moloney starts off by breathlessly recounting stories of succubi teenagers, before hastily admitting and then dismissing the fact that the entire premise of his outraged article (the pregnancy pact) is bullshit.
Local news reports have questioned Time’s characterization of the situation, but nobody is denying that these girls knew how to avoid getting pregnant and instead chose otherwise. To young girls who see teenage pregnancy as something desirable, making a pact like this is not unimaginable.
Er. Yeah. “There wasn’t a pact exactly, but there might as well have been, and come on, it sounds right so let’s believe it anyway.”
The entire column is based on a strange premise—that all teenage girls are one teenage girl with one singular motivation, which is roaming the countryside sucking up sperm in order to get pregnant. That all teenage girls at all points in time are eager to have babies right now. At best, for wingnut fear-mongering pieces at least, some of the girls were happy about their pregnancies. But to dimiss completely out of hand the idea that some of them were accidents? And of course, Moloney’s not even remotely interested in examining why teenage girls might think having a baby is a good idea. The important thing is that even if they’re taking birth control pills, that wouldn’t work, because teenage girls are singularly eager to have babies.
Local health officials in Gloucester, however, seem to have been completely oblivious to the aspirations of these girls. Gloucester High offers pregnancy tests and other reproductive health services through its school-based health clinic. At least some of the girls clearly were happy to be pregnant — slapping high fives when they heard the news — which suggests they weren’t trying to avoid conception. Yet the nurse who runs the clinic and the clinic’s medical director reacted by calling for greater access to birth control, even if the parents of the girls didn’t approve:
So here’s the question: If no teenage girls in the school will use the birth control because of their succubi-like nature, then what’s the harm in making it available? By Moloney’s measure, it’s going to just sit on the shelf unused. So why not indulge the health officials in their supposed fantasy? Is Moloney worried about the inches of storage space lost to house the pills and condoms that would languish unused? I suspect not. I suspect the real thing he fears is that girls would use the contraception made available to them, and thereby end up proving that taking birth control is actually effective against getting pregnant, even in teenage succubi.
This view [that contraception access reduces the pregnancy rate] is unproven, but it has been the foundation of U.S. family planning policy since 1972. And the push to expand school-based health clinics is part of a movement to increase the availability of birth control to minors without their parents’ knowledge or consent.
Now he’s stone cold lying. It’s proven in the U.S. and proven in other countries—the easier it is to get and use contraception, the lower the teenage pregnancy rate.
Eighty-six percent of the recent decline in U.S. teen pregnancy rates is the result of improved contraceptive use, while a small proportion of the decline (14%) can be attributed to teens waiting longer to start having sex, according to “Explaining Recent Declines in Adolescent Pregnancy in the United States: The Contribution of Abstinence and Improved Contraceptive Use” by John Santelli et al., published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
In fact, it’s this knowledge that’s the big issue. Students at Gloucester have lower than average access to contraception, which is why two school health officials resigned in protest when told that they couldn’t improve the situation. After the resignations brought media attention to this, the principal tried to save face by blaming the teenage pregnancy rate on the devious machinations of out-of-control teenage succubi. Will making contraception available prevent every single teenage pregnancy? No one is saying that. Will it prevent some? Well, common sense, and that 86% figure cited above would say yes. But Moloney outright denies that there’s any kind of link between contraception and not getting pregnant.
These young girls know how to have babies, so further sex ed isn’t needed. They want to have babies, so contraception is beside the point.
Teenage girls nowadays know what cocks are and how to use them. Dangerous stuff.
No, seriously. 100% of teenage pregnancies are deliberate? Really? You really think so? I wonder where abortion fits into the story he’s telling himself, because it does happen, and teenagers are a huge percentage of the women who seek abortion. If teenage girls who have babies are welfare-loving succubi, then are teenage girls who have abortions just rebels who like to get pregnant and then abort to double up the emasculation of the men of America? Or is it possible that there is a lot of accidental pregnancy amongst teenagers? I’d offer, too, that making sex ed and contraception more widely available would cut down on the girls who are more deliberate about getting pregnant. What percentage of girls that seek to become mothers at a young age often do so because they feel unloved and adrift. Telling them that someone cares about them and their health enough to reach out in this way could help set them on a different path.
But the idea that it was so easy for teenagers to get contraception in Gloucester and just avoided it because teenagers are succubi is disproven even in the original Time article that was otherwise playing up every wingnut trope imaginable.
Currently Gloucester teens must travel about 20 miles (30 km) to reach the nearest women’s health clinic; younger girls have to get a ride or take the train and walk.
If they even know where it is, which I doubt if it’s in a town 20 miles away. That maybe doesn’t sound so far to people who own cars and have licenses, but as someone who lived in a small town as a teenager, I can assure you that going to an entirely different town to use a clinic that you may not even know exists is a daunting task at that age.