By Kortney Blythe
While watching American Idol recently, a commercial came on that caught my attention. An amateurish-looking home video showed two giddy, laughing teenage girls jumping on a trampoline, acting goofy.
Then a voiceover said, “I love my life. I’m not gonna mess it up with a pregnancy.” And a web site address flashed on the screen: StayTeen.org.
Being the abortion abolitionist that I am, I immediately opened my laptop to check it out. At first, I was pleasantly surprised. The web site, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, strongly advised waiting to have sex.
Among the various messages were myths about sex, lists of compelling reasons why abstinence is best and even a mention of how TV and movies portray sex as having no repercussions. In addition, I was impressed by the fact that the site differentiated between lust and love, and recognized the physical and emotional consequences attached to sex.
According to the site’s bullet points, “not everybody is doing it” [having sex]. Nearly 70 percent of teens wish they had waited to have sex and 94 percent want a strong abstinence message.
But, as I expected, that was the end of the good news. After leaving the “abstinence” section and perusing the rest of the site, I came upon the “help and advice” section. What took the top spot, among the first three resources listed for three separate topics?
Yes, that bastion of abortion, libertine sex (for the young and old) and the undermining of parents and purity. To appease parents and the general public, Planned Parenthood occasionally uses the word “abstinence” in its propaganda. But it is almost always followed with a “but” and some nonsense about the need to realize how unrealistic abstinence is, thus undermining the whole purpose of promoting it.
It’s disturbingly contradictory for a web site that claims to want to prevent teen pregnancy and promote abstinence to send young people to Planned Parenthood for questions about “sex, protection, contraception …STDs … [and] emergency contraception.”
Once again, our government (and whoever else was involved in this site) fails to grasp the mixed messages they are sending to kids who view such a web site.
A show like American Idol is watched by families with kids of varying ages. Many of them will visit StayTeen.org because of the captivating commercial. Unfortunately, the site perpetuates the false message that “abstinence is good, but since it’s probably not realistic, use contraception.” Until parents start consistently teaching their children and teens the importance of lifelong chastity, the rates of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and premarital sex at increasingly younger ages will continue to rise.
And no amount of confusing web sites, such as StayTeen.org, will change those statistics.
Kortney Blythe is the chapter and street team coordinator for American Life League’s Rock for Life project, which brings the human personhood message to youth through music, education and human rights activism. This commentary appeared in the March 5, 2010 issue of the RFL e-newsletter. You can also view it on RFL's blog page.