Madison — Whatever one’s views are on abortion, most people would agree that, logically speaking, the best way to reduce the abortion rate (and teen pregnancy rate) in the state of Wisconsin would be to provide comprehensive education on how to prevent unintended pregnancies as well as to make contraceptives affordable and widely available.
But logic doesn’t rule in Wisconsin these days. When Rep. Joel Kleefisch (who happens to be the husband of the current Lt. Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch) voted in favor of SB 237 in March, he was voting for a bill that repeals several key provisions of Wisconsin’s Healthy Youth Act, things which were originally included in the Act to help reduce the teen pregnancy rate. According to Project Vote Smart, SB 237 “…Repeals provisions that require medically accurate information regarding the following topics in the local human growth and development curriculum:
-Puberty, pregnancy, parenting, body image, and gender stereotypes;
-Skills needed to make “responsible decisions” about sexuality and sexual behavior; and
-The health benefits, side effects, and proper use of contraceptives and barrier methods approved for use by the federal Food and Drug Administration.”
Since the passage of SB 237, public schools are no longer required to teach teens about contraceptives, much less how to properly use them to avoid pregnancy and STIs.
In contrast to the factual and relevant information that was taught under the Healthy Youth Act, SB 237 requires a focus on “abstinence only” teaching in sex ed classes. Rather than teaching that abstinence is the “most reliable” method for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, the law now requires that abstinence be portrayed as the “only reliable” method.
In addition, as kind of an extra slap in the face to gay teens across the state, the new law also requires a human growth and development curriculum include instruction in “the socioeconomic benefits of marriage for adults and their children,” but doesn’t address the fact that these “benefits” only apply to heterosexual couples, since gay marriage is not legal in Wisconsin. The undercurrent here is this: if students are taught that they should remain abstinent until marriage, but gay marriage is banned, then gay teens are being instructed that they should never engage in sex. Ever. That’s the only logical conclusion that can be drawn when all of the dots are connected. This is especially interesting, considering that gay teens are the least likely to end up pregnant (although STIs are still an issue).
Kleefisch’s strategy in reducing the teen pregnancy rate in our state, it seems, is to simply tell teenagers to not have sex; that, in fact, it’s “a crime” for them to do so. Problem solved, right? If you tell teens to not do something, and tell them it’s illegal, then they won’t do it (that approach always works, right?). And it’s no use preparing them for a time when a little knowledge just might be the thing that prevents an unintended pregnancy.
Kleefisch’s “sexuality among youth isn’t a right… it’s a crime…” statement isn’t as bizarre, however, as are his comments about the so-called GOP “War on Women.” During the recent floor session, he rose to speak about the “mortality rate among the women who are aborted,” stating:
“We hear that this is an attack on women; a war on women; a war on women’s rights. What about the war on the rights of the women who haven’t yet been born? While there are many, many horrendous choices mothers and fathers have to make, and difficult pregnancies that I certainly don’t understand, and some of those decisions end up tragic… they do. But I’m darn sure, I’m pretty sure, that there’s a much higher mortality rate among the women who are aborted. We have a duty to value those lives, because those women, too, have value.”
At the very least, Kleefisch’s statement conjures up some outlandish (and biologically impossible) imagery. Of course, by “women who are aborted” he means the zygotic, embryonic or fetal stage of prenatal development of a future woman. His words imply there’s a “War on Women” in the womb. But if he were truly interested in reducing the “mortality rate among the women who are aborted,” he would have voted against SB 237. It would have been the logical thing to do.