LONDON (ChurchMilitant.com) - Funding cuts to so-called "safe sex" programs in the United Kingdom have been linked to historic lows in teen pregnancy rates, according to a recent study published in the latest volume of the Journal of Health Economics.
The "Teenage Pregnancy Strategy," initiated in the United Kingdom in 1999, featured safe sex classes and distribution of birth control to teenagers. This was in an effort to curb teen pregnancy rates, which were twice that of the rest of Europe at the time.
After the global economic crisis of 2008, cities in the United Kingdom began to enact cuts to sex education programs. The new research focuses on the impact of these cuts on teen pregnancy in 149 British cities. The study found that the surge in spending on birth control and sex education programs between 1999 and 2005 did little to change an already-declining teen pregnancy and abortion rate. Steep cuts enacted in 2008, however, show a strong correlation with likewise steep drops in teen pregnancies and abortions.
"Contrary to predictions made at the time of the cuts," the study claims, "panel data estimates provide no evidence that areas which reduced expenditure the most have experienced relative increases in teenage pregnancy rates."
For years, the Church has faced criticism by secular and liberal commentators, slamming the Church for its opposition to distribution of contraceptives in parts of Africa ravaged by AIDS.
According to Church teaching, that the efficacy of birth control distribution and "safe sex" programs do not determine the moral liceity of such programs. The ends never justify the means, and circumstances and intentions in isolation from the "object" of an action do not make an action morally sound. That is why the Church teaches that drops in pregnancy among teenage girls using IUDs do not justify the use of the IUD.
Catholic doctrine likewise teaches that programs that distribute contraceptives and counsel youth to engage in sex outside of marriage or teach that contraceptive sex is good are always wrong regardless of the public health outcome. As it happens, however, in the United Kingdom cuts in funding to these programs have not caused the sky to fall, as had been predicted by anti-life interest groups and politicians.
In a 1995 document titled The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, the Pontifical Council for the Family warned parents against the false promises of so-called "safe sex" courses in schools and contraceptive methods and their attendant false sense of security.
"Another abuse occurs," the document states, "whenever sex education is given to children by teaching them all the intimate details of genital relationships, even in a graphic way. Today, this is often motivated by wanting to provide education for 'safe sex,' above all in relation to the spread of AIDS."
The Pontifical Council continued, "In this situation, parents must also reject the promotion of so-called 'safe sex' or 'safer sex,' a dangerous and immoral policy based on the deluded theory that the condom can provide adequate protection against AIDS. Parents must insist on continence outside marriage and fidelity in marriage as the only true and secure education for the prevention of this contagious disease."
Pope St. John Paul II in his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio said the following about the proper sexual education of youth:
Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centers chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church reaffirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe when it cooperates in sex education, by entering into the same spirit that animates the parents.
In this context, education for chastity is absolutely essential, for it is a virtue that develops a person's authentic maturity and makes him or her capable of respecting and fostering the "nuptial meaning" of the body. Indeed Christian parents, discerning the signs of God's call, will devote special attention and care to education in virginity or celibacy as the supreme form of that self-giving that constitutes the very meaning of human sexuality.
The Church has been sounding the alarm on immoral, so-called sex education programs for almost a century, long before the advent of the pill and the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Pope Pius XI in 1929, in his encyclical Divini Illius Magistri, spoke to the issue of sex education outside of the family divorced from Catholic teaching on the Sixth and Ninth Commandments and the consequent danger of scandal:
And there is a country where the children are actually being torn from the bosom of the family, to be formed (or, to speak more accurately, to be deformed and depraved) in godless schools and associations, to irreligion and hatred, according to the theories of advanced socialism; and thus is renewed in a real and more terrible manner the slaughter of the Innocents.