I have a new piece up on the Blowfish Blog. It's about the idea that abstinence is a 100% effective method of birth control... and what, exactly, is wrong with that idea. It's titled Abstinence, Birth Control, and the Difference between Theory and Practice, and here's the teaser:
So how effective -- really -- is abstinence as a birth control method?
Bristol Palin, Sarah Palin's famously "unmarried and pregnant at 17 and an unmarried mother at 18" daughter, recently went on a tour of the TV talk shows, advocating -- in an irony so massive I feel puny standing next to it -- abstinence for teenagers.
And one of the arguments she made -- with her baby on her lap -- was that abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy.
Now, if Bristol Palin, or anyone else, had gone on the TV talk show circuit arguing that, say, birth control pills were the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy -- and they'd done so with their unplanned baby on their lap -- they'd have been laughed off the stage. But people tend to see abstinence as different. People -- and not just right-wing ideologues -- tend to see a failure of abstinence as a failure of the people practicing it... not as a failure of the method.
So today, I want to talk about how we do -- and do not -- measure the effectiveness of any given method of birth control.
To find out how the effectiveness of birth control is usually measured -- and to ask why this theory doesn't get applied to abstinence as well -- read the rest of the piece. Enjoy! (And if you're inspired to comment on this piece on this blog, please consider cross- posting your comment to the Blowfish Blog as well. They like comments there, too.)