According to the 1993 minority report of the Congressional Committee on Children, Youth, and Families, "Progressively over the past 25 years we as a nation have decided that it is easier to give children pills than to teach them respect for sex and marriage. Today we see the results of that decision, not only in increased pregnancy rates but in increased rates of drug abuse, venereal disease, suicide, and other forms of self-destructive behavior."
Unfortunately "respect for sex and marriage" is usually not taught in public schools under America's "new" Constitution. When Sex Respect, a book advocating abstinence, was approved for use in Wisconsin schools, the ACLU sued to force the state to ban the book because teaching abstinence "promotes a religious perspective regarding the 'spiritual dimension' of sexuality" and is therefore unconstitutional. The ACLU also sued in California to stop the teaching of abstinence because "teaching that monogamous, heterosexual intercourse within marriage is a traditional American value is an unconstitutional establishment of a religious doctrine in public schools."
Under our Constitution, however, sexual promiscuity may be taught. In fact, in many states it must be taught. For example, throughout the nation schools use It's Perfectly Normal, a sex-education textbook written for ten-year-old children. In this book dozens of color illustrations of naked little boys and girls teach a variety of sexual experiences. The book demonstrates to the little ones how to masturbate and use condoms and other contraceptives, lists nine reasons for having an abortion, and emphasizes the normality of having two mommies or two daddies.
Fornication is approved in textbooks for older children. "Premarital intercourse does have its definite values as a training ground, like taking a car out for a test run before you buy it" (Boys and Sex and Girls and Sex). Adultery also is approved. Learning About Sex tells students that "some people are now saying that partnerships -- married or unmarried -- should not be exclusive ... . The freedom for both partners to love and share sex with others should also be present."
Complementing the schools' sex education is America's constitutionally protected obsession with pornography. Recently, following a parent's complaint to Wesleyan University, the media carried reports that colleges across the country offer courses in pornography. Over four-fifths of the downloads on the Internet are pornographic (from over a million porno sites), and tens of billions of dollars are spent annually on pornographic magazines, videotapes, live nude shows, and the like.
It should come as no surprise, then, that today the most common diseases in the U.S. -- after the common cold and the flu -- are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Over 50 million Americans are now infected with an incurable STD. According to Dr. George Eagleton (Journal of the American Medical Association), "The United States has the highest rates of STDs in the industrialized world. Up to twelve million new cases are reported annually, 85% of them in people 5 to 29 years of age."
But not only has the number of victims of STDs skyrocketed, so also has the number of diseases. Fifty years ago American servicemen were warned about two venereal diseases, syphilis and gonorrhea (there were rumors of a third). Syphilis and gonorrhea are still around, a million and a half new cases a year. But today almost 70 diseases have been classified as sexually transmitted, and many of them are so insidious that in the early and most communicable stages, the victims are unaware they have been infected and are infectious themselves.
HPV (human papiloma-virus) is the most rampant sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. Over 70 different strains of this disease have been identified. According to Glamour magazine, "One million new cases of HPV are diagnosed in the United States each year. Sexually active women under the age of 25 are most vulnerable. Some studies put the infection rate in this group at 30 to 40 percent." Overall, the number of victims now living with this disease is estimated to be as high as 40 million.
Genital herpes is often confused with HPV. In a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Marshall Glover, director of the National STD Hotline of the Centers for Disease Control, wrote that "today, one in five American adults has genital herpes, and 90% of them don't know it. Since the 1970s cases of genital herpes have increased fivefold among teenagers."
Sterility is the consequence of many sexually transmitted diseases. It is estimated that sterility -- a problem rare before the sexual revolution -- now afflicts 15 percent of married couples. Billions of dollars are spent annually in the U.S. for fertility treatment. Though there are many causes, the most common cause (in both men and women) is thought to be chlamydia, an STD infecting four million people a year. Forty percent of all persons who are sexually active are thought to be carriers, probably because 70 percent of persons with chlamydia are unaware that they've been infected.
AIDS afflicts about a million Americans. In many areas of the world it is the fastest spreading venereal disease. So far there is no cure, though large doses of expensive drugs can keep victims alive for an undetermined period of time. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "Teenagers [in the U.S.] are getting AIDS at a faster rate than any other group." A quarter of the infants born to HIV-infected mothers are born with the disease and a fifth of these die of AIDS before they are two years old.
Women and young people are most often the victims of the sexual revolution. In the past decade a number of studies have shown the direct link between abortion (the legality of which is so zealously championed by feminists) and breast cancer. Studies have also shown a direct link between STDs and cervical cancer. Twenty-five years ago, when the sex revolution was well under way, Dr. Robert Joli, Chief of Pathology Service at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, reported that "we are seeing an 800% increase in the number of suspicious Papanicolaou smears from patients in the younger age group (15-22). Two factors are present in the vast majority of cases we are studying: birth control pills and sexual promiscuity."
What Dr. Joli suspected has proven to be true. Gynecologist William Parker has noted that "the same sexually transmitted virus that causes genital warts (HPV) is the most common cause of cervical cancer. During adolescence the cells of the cervix are more susceptible to this infection. Therefore, intercourse at an early age increases the risk of getting cervical precancer and cancer."
Another common cause of cervical cancer is PID (pelvic inflammatory disease), which afflicts only women. PID, often caused by chlamydia, is "the most significant serious consequence of sexually transmitted diseases of the upper female genital tract," according to the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. "[It] affects 11% of reproductive age women and has immediate and long-term reproductive sequelae."
Most of the million new cases of PID each year are found among teenage girls. The affliction results in 65,000 hysterectomies a year. The Medical Institute for Sexual Health reports that "the risk of pelvic inflammatory disease is as much as ten times greater for 15-year-old females than for 24-year-old females." This disease, a common cause of sterility, is also a major cause of ectopic pregnancies, which are life-threatening to the mother and deadly to her child.
It is, of course, the babies who suffer most. A Department of Health and Human Services bulletin on STDs lists the following under "Consequences for the Fetus and Newborn":
Can't these diseases and all other STDs be prevented by practicing "safe sex" (using condoms), as students are daily taught by their caring "family health" teachers? Actually, no. According to the Medical Institute for Sexual Health, "condoms provide virtually no protection" against many STDs. Every year billions of condoms are used. Every year millions of young Americans are afflicted with STDs.
In Infectious Diseases in Children, Dr. Paul Byrne wrote: "All of this is caused by promiscuity. All of this disease and suffering can be prevented by having one sexual partner of the opposite sex after marriage. Think of the dollars saved by following God's plan."
In a recent letter to the Hartford Courant, a young man (I assume he was young, if not in years, at least in psychological development) wrote that "when it comes to sex, the Catholic Church doesn't have a clue." I suspect it's the young man who doesn't have a clue. Catholics who practice their faith and embody its sexual wisdom can have stable marriages, loving families, and freedom from STDs.
© 2000 New Oxford Review. All Rights Reserved. May 2000, Volume LXVII, Number 5.
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