* Preaching abstinence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, teen-pregnancy nationwide is at an all-time low, in part, because teens are using condoms and birth control pills simultaneously. Recently, the experts have discovered that by using the Plan B method and incorporating the use of IUDs, teens are even at less risk of getting pregnant. Teaching sex education and preaching abstinence are seen as making little difference in curbing and preventing the phenomenon that is still upsetting seriously the lives of hundreds of thousands of teens every year.
In West Virginia, the problem costs taxpayers $67 million annually. And in Lincoln County, failure to use the most important and reliable tools available, abortion, Plan B pills and IUDs means teen pregnancy is still on the rise while elsewhere in the state the rate is falling dramatically. Meanwhile, Lincoln County citizens continue to bemoan the rising pregnancy rate among their teen-age neighbors while condemning the human and fiscal costs.
For years Lincoln County preachers, and they are legion, have been sermonizing that abstinence is the only method. But statistics prove the preachers to be woefully wrong. What is more, although the state mandates sex education in schools, many educators in Lincoln County refuse to touch the subject out of fear of reprisals from parents steeped in a religiosity that forbids modernity. Never mind that sex education, though somewhat beneficial, is still theoretical.
Widespread confusion over Plan B apparently is stalling government distribution of the over-the-counter pills that are proven to be immensely effective. Although the pills do not induce abortions, a debate rages in the county because some continue to disbelieve the pill simply interferes with ovulation, a scientific fact. Meanwhile government benefits such as baby formula, clothing, and special health care to expectant teen mothers are available. But the very same benefits promote teen pregnancy.
The bottom line is this: As long as the good citizens of Lincoln County remain in denial about the best methods of preventing teen pregnancy, the likelihood that the problem will continue and grow is beyond the shadow of a doubt. Adhering to simplistic proscriptions like abstinence is futile. And the countywide rejection of Plan B is irresponsible.
Rabel is a Lincoln County resident and Emmy Award Winning author. His recent memoir is titled "Ed Rabel Reports: Lies, Wars and Other Misadventures."