I thought Dr. Laura Berman did a terrific job. She knocked down each and every one of Laura Ingraham's attempts to smear the Los Angeles school district for having a Planned Parenthood clinic in a public high school. Berman pointed out that what Planned Parenthood is doing is entirely needed and legal. And Ingraham didn't really have any argument other than to try to fox (pun intended) Berman into admitting contraception is not as effective as abstinence (she didn't) and to make smarmy suggestions about Planned Parenthood.
What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
I would still have to go with a basic rule that the person who should be in charge of what to do about a pregnancy is the person who is pregnant, in consultation with her doctor. Imposing a moral judgment by someone else unfortunately puts that woman into a position that has less to do with medical issues and more to do with the outside person’s opinion of the woman’s lifestyle and choices.
We also need to be aware that taking away the legal choice of abortion for most women will not mean that they will not get pregnant. It just means that the situation will revert to what it was before Roe v Wade, where some places were known to be legal locations for it, and other places saw a lot of unsafe makeshift abortions which were dangerous to the women involved. There’s a reason those were referred to as “back alley” abortions. Attempting to reimpose that scenario in the 21st century strikes me as an untenable option.
I would be very happy if more people would pursue abstinence and chastity, and devote themselves to a single mate for their whole lives. I agree that we are in an age where marriage as an institution is no longer as much of a core value as it was fifty years ago. But we should also be aware that fifty and even one hundred years ago and longer, people were not simply chaste and abstinent up to the day of marriage. Some were, and some even practice that philosophy today. Most were not. And while I can happily point to many couples who have enjoyed long marriages, I can unfortunately point to many more who have not. Couples who married young and then realized ten years later that this was not the person they wished to spend the next fifty wiht. Couples who had children in an effort to keep the marriage together, only to find themselves working out a situation of divorced parents sharing custody.
I agree that sex education that consists of wink-wink, nod-nod will do very little to help a teenager understand some basic information everyone should have. But just telling teenagers “You shouldn’t do this until you’re prepared to spend the rest of your life with this person” will not address the situation either. I think there’s a middle ground – where you can address the very real health issues, and the very real emotional and societal ramifications of sexual activity. Again, more information is better than less information.
I don’t know anyone who wants a ten year old child to be engaging in this kind of activity. Among other reasons, that’s before the child has even gone through puberty. However, if we’re talking about a sixteen year old teenager who is dealing with all the raging hormones of that age, isn’t it a better idea to address the situation rather than just telling that teenager “Just say no”?
I believe that what Laura Berman was trying to say, repeatedly, was that the notion of abstinence-only education was tried for 8 years under the GW Bush administration. It did not lower the numbers of teen pregnancies or teen STDs. The numbers went up. She agrees that abstinence-BASED education is the way to go, as it acknowledges what is really happening while trying to provide some basic guidance. Guidance, I might add, that should have been provided by the parents and many times is not.
Thanks for the positive dialogue. If there were more of this and less of the rankorous name-calling so popular now through the media – we might even begin to cure some serious human problems. Quickly, before leaving this article…
Kevin, I truly understand the pain your friend and his wife faced in their pregnancy. This and other such cases represents such a small percentage of the over 55 million US abortions counted thus far. We have used the exceptions to make the rule – unfettered abortion for ANY reason. Can you conceive of a rule that addresses cases where the physical viability of the fetus is the core consideration and thus protects the well-being of the fetus that is healthy and growing in a natural progression to adulthood?
Brian, thank you so very much for taking the time to review the suggested curricula.
I reference the fact that our abortion laws permit the taking of viable lives…and that this happens in substantial numbers. I did not claim that this was “most abortions.” You inferred that on your own. I only asked that you consider these cases because they are so easy to visualize for those who are pro-abortion. In defending our abortion laws, supporters generally point to the “tiny” fetus as insignificant. But they “choose” to ignore or diminish the importance of the very real babies who are literally killed. The discussion of abortion in our country is clearly “fact-challenged.” In another arena, where there is sufficient time and space, many such factual discussions are being held.
Finally, the term “safe sex” is a term that is malleable and used to mean many different things. Safe from what? And safe for whom? Safe from pregnancy? from STDs? For a married adult? For a ten-year-old child? For a man? For a woman? In the early years of sex ed, condoms were “the cure – safe sex.” Then…when the truth was finally allowed to surface, they turned to Depo and morning after pills. Even the contraceptive pill has failure rates and life-long health implications for women involving infertility and cancer. There is a call through the common discussion on sex for medical accuracy. If people really inform themselves on medical accurate facts of birth control, condoms and sexual practices, they will find they have been misinformed by those who want to gloss over real risks and then “sell” solutions such as STD testing and treatment, abortion, and fertility treatments.
Chastity is not about religion. It is about a choice any person can make to reserve their sexuality for that person who will treasure them enough to value their emotional, spiritual, economic, physical and sexual well-being for…in the cases of some people who make this choice…for the duration of their life together. A person can make this choice outside of a church or religion simply because the person values themself and wants to share life with another person who also so values them.
These curricula are addressed to our young children. I challenge you to defend sexual activity as safe for children below a certain age…you pick the age, and I will accept your choice. I have yet to meet a person who wants to teach “safe sex” to young people who will draw a line in the sand, and say…on this side of the line you are NOT ready for sex. Their default position is, “when you are ‘ready for sex’ make sure it is ‘safe sex’”.
Any 12-year-old will hear that and know they have been given permission to have sex. You think that such is child is “ready” and will be “safe”? Even the much-touted CDC determined that the only 100% safe sex is between two uninfected people in a long-term monogamous relationship. (We used to call that marriage.)
Where is your line in the sand? And why? And finally, when a person steps over your line…what are they risks they are accepting? Risks on the sort-term AND long-term basis?
Those are the questions abstinence educators try to meet head-on with medically accurate facts. In general, those who promote “safe sex” programs are short on facts, self-selecting the facts that promise “safe” for the moment of passion and glossing over the facts that deal with real risk…a kind of “oops” mentality that kids can “fix” by getting tested and having an abortion.
I truly honor the fact that you opened your mind to these questions and took the time to investigate. I am sure you and I will have areas where we may always disagree…but, when we are armed with truth, I believe we share many concerns and beliefs.
I will fall out of the discussion with this. Again, thanks for considerate dialogue!
1. We agree that there is a common problem on talk/issues shows – both on radio and television. The host, whether it be on Fox or MSNBC, has a preset agenda for the discussion and pulls the attorney trick of asking leading questions to get the results they want. Some hosts are better about being open and listening to their guests. On Bill O’Reilly’s better days, I’ve seen him listen and adjust to a well-prepared guest. Laura Ingraham consistently does not – and this goes back to her radio show, where she has free reign to indulge in this kind of behavior. It’s unfortunate and I don’t think anyone learns from the exchange.
2. You are correct that LI could have had a second guest on with identical credentials to LB who would have had a completely different approach. We should note that LB’s credentials are not just the doctorate, which is not in psychology. It’s her fellowship in that area, and her professorial status both in terms of OBGYN and psych that I believe gives her credibility here. That does not mean that all professors would think the same thing.
3. I agree with you re fungibility of funds. However, it is my understanding that federal funding of PP is specifically NOT to be used for the practice of abortion. It is specifically meant for the education and health practices of PP, which have been statistically shown to be beneficial towards womens’ health in this country.
I don’t feel it appropriate for me as a man to debate on one side or the other re abortion and contraception. I’ll just say that it’s a decision that isn’t my business unless we’re talking about a situation that involves someone with whom I am trying to conceive a child. I think it’s more appropriate for the women whose decision it is to take part in that debate. It does seem to me that they should not be barred from options just because there’s a percentage (however large) of the population that would prefer they didn’t pursue some of them.
That said, I do need to add one thing here – there are times when I have been shown by the family involved that an abortion is a medical necessity. I have a friend whose wife was pregnant with a fetus that had such severe medical issues (including being anencephalic) that to have the baby would have potentially caused injuries to the mother, not to mention being cruel to a baby who would only live for minutes in what could best be described as an agonized state. To have told my friend’s wife that she should still have that child regardless would have been inappropriate. She and her husband elected to terminate that pregnancy rather than risk further harm to herself or deliberately bring suffering to a child. In the years since, they have had two children, so this was not a matter of not wanting or trying to conceive.
From what I’ve seen, PP is not just an abortion provider, although it does do that. I believe that to only focus on the practice of abortion and to ignore the rest of what they do misses the point about education and women’s health. I believe that PP has had a positive effect on the health of women around this country – I don’t think they are simply purveyors of abortion trying to peddle their services to unsuspecting teens and uninformed women.
4. I do wish that abstinence-only education would work to convince teens not to engage in sex. I wish that more parents would be involved in this in a positive way for their children. It seems to me that a big part of the problem here is that the parents are either negligently or willfully ignorant of what is actually happening with their teenagers. This leaves the situation in the hands of teachers in school or clinics like this one. I’d rather that teenagers got some information, including the warnings about STDs and potential pregnancy than tell them to just say no. And I’m not saying that your curricula say that at all. I’m just saying that more information is better than no information. And in many schools, particularly in lower-income areas, the teenagers are getting their information on this from all the wrong places – which is why we have the issues with teen pregnancy and STDs.
I agree with you that there’s something seriously wrong with the idea of young teenagers, and even younger minors, engaging in this kind of activity. I honestly believe that in most cases, things start happening as we get very close to, or into high school age. I remember at my junior high school in the 1980s that these kinds of discussions really kicked in between the 8th and 9th grade.
5. We agree that the segment did not work – although I do think that LB made some cogent points when she was able to get them in. I don’t think they were just talking points. My issue with LI is that she did not listen to what LB was saying, and that’s a common problem whether she’s discussing this issue with LB or a multitude of others. On occasion, I’ve seen Bill O’Reilly get frustrated with her. And I remember Bernie Goldberg commenting last year when she baited Charlie Rangel that his angry response was nowhere near as bad as it could have been given the provocation she was making. (Rangel insulted her, to be sure, and I’m not in any way saying that it’s okay to be dismissive. But even Goldberg responded to that saying that she was lucky it didn’t get any worse than that given her own conduct.)
I can see my short answer was almost as long as my long one. Sorry about that.
Thank you for giving energy and thought to your long analysis. In order to maintain time for regular âlife,â I will pick 5 items in your list. This does not imply disregard for your other points, but only that Internet debate needs limits.
1. LI â Cutting off the guest – I will give you your point on this show. This is an aggravating problem on all talk shows where guests fight back with attempts to filibuster, attempting to pre-empt further questions or challenges. This problem involves most talk showsâ¦liberal shows included. My favorite host Dennis Prager seems to strike a healthy balance more often than not.
2. LB â Dr. Bermanâs doctorate in psychology does not immediately assign expertise and credentials to all aspects of this high school medical clinic. There are PhDs and MDs with similarly relevant credentials who would not ascribe to her positions and/or conclusions on this topic. Discussions that draw on PhD/MD experts who can rationally support conservative views, especially those in the sexual arena, are rare in the public square, not because these experts are not willing, but because they are not welcomed by liberal media hosts. In the case of Fox and Laura, the talk show with the pro/con format is seldom productive in developing analysis of a complex issue. This is not a problem only for Fox, but for all talk show formats that thrive on âdebateâ of current news.
3. LI/LB â Your analysis of the money involved in abortion, and with Planned Parenthoodâs (PP) abortions clinics, involves a few basic assertions that are fallacious. Money/funding for a business is never isolated from the overall goals of the business. Federal dollars given to PP for any reason allow it to prop up, pay for, market, and lobby for its general business. In the case of PP, abortion is a major profit stream.
When I taught fifth grade, we were not allowed by our district to use math worksheets with the name of a catsup or pineapple company. The district recognized, even though the lesson was instructive, it had an ancillary purpose of promoting a for-profit business.
This is basic marketing 101. Anyone with an open mind can understand the marketing implications of having access to all the teens in this school district and being able to direct them to the abortion clinic down the street.
If you are willing (and can find) a group of twenty women who obtained abortions at PP, I can assure you that they will inform you that they were not âcounseledâ as to their options/choices. Abortion is a product. It is marketed. And it is promoted. Just as with any other product, when the âbuyerâ has âobjections,â the âsales personâ is coached on how to âanswerâ those objections â or steer the buyer â to the final purchase of the product.
I grew up in the 60s where there were vibrant and broad discussions about contraception and abortion. I would encourage you and others here on this website to consider the possibility that wholesale support of a surgical procedure that invades a womanâs uterus with sharp instruments and destroys viable babies, able to live on their own outside the womb, merits better understanding than evidenced in your discussion. Truth has yet to surface and be welcomed in our pro-abortion-without-restrictions-of-any- kind, culture.
These are the kinds of questions that inflame passions on all talk shows where they try to âcoverâ such an issue in just 5 minutes or less. I agree that this discussion between LI and LB was not successful. At best, it pushed each âcampâ into its own corner. I welcome any discussion on abortion that gives reasonable time to discreet issues that can be fully and respectfully developed.
Finallyâ¦it is NOT a minor issue, relating birth control and abortion to giving aspirin to high school students. I work in the health care industry today (in a specialty not related directly to sexual issues). Liability is a tremendous issue for all medical providers. However, in abortion, because of the extreme secrecy inherent in peopleâs personal sex lives, we give a pass to medical intervention in the lives of adolescents. If an adolescentâs life is harmed emotionally or physically by contraceptive drugs or abortion, she (almost always it is the female harmed) is not in a position because of her age to object, complain, or sue. In later years, when she might wish to object, too much time has passed. This insulates those who SELL these PRODUCTS from the basic liability claims most feared by medical providers. I sat through the trial of Dr. Biskind, an Arizona doctor sent to prison for the death of a patient he did not follow after her abortion. I suggest you Google that story.
4. The mere mention of abstinence education on any show guarantees that liberal talking points will be swallowed without any regard for the truth. People talk about the âsuccessâ of our attempts to address unwed pregnancy and STDsâ¦they spout talking points with no understanding of the research in these areas. They have minimal to no understanding of the curricula offered to promote sexual abstinence to young people.
Most alarmingly, when a major MD at a conference asked liberal sex educators if they could at least agree on one thingâ¦an age TOO young for youth to engage in sexâ¦the educators refused to concede even that simple thing. Five years of age, eight, ten, twelveâ¦when is a child too young for sex? These highly trained educators REFUSED TO PICK AN AGE.
I realize this moves from your arguments to a challenge by Brian. I offer two areas where you can begin your investigation of research into effective programs that teach youth healthy sexual attitudes and the positive physical and emotional benefits of abstaining from sexâ¦yesâ¦even in the very high school where PP has set up shop.
The first link is to a curriculaâ¦you will most likely be surprised at their medical accuracy. They are. Accurate.
The second link is to a professional organization with links to professional studies and evaluations of sex education.
I could cite twenty examples of PP-style sex ed lessons. Just this one will suffice. At a state professional development workshop for sex ed teachers and health clinics, a key presenter demonstrated how to use her mouth to put a condom on a banana. She rationalized this lesson as important for teen girls who might be raped and need to âprotect themselves.â The state director of the health department giggled through the presentation and refused to ever renounce this as an inappropriate lesson for students and a totally inaccurate lesson with respect to medical issues and the psychology and reality of rape. You think this is a once-in-a-decade example? It is not.
5. Unfortunately, the segment with LI and LB was ineffective in many ways. The discussion wandered all over the map of sexual ethics and never touched on any point long enough to educate or elucidate. Too bad. I agree with you on this point.
It’s interesting that she thinks that this would be a fundraiser for PP, given that this isn’t a high-income neighborhood. Where does LI think all these kids are going to get $300 for the abortions she thinks this clinic is meant to promote? Or is that yet another sideswipe at that community?
WIthout making any slurs or vulgarity – my comment about LI is based on her history of cutting off guests when they don’t say exactly what she wants to hear – I stand by my earlier comment.
First, let’s dispense with Laura Berman’s title and expertise. She has an MA in Clinical Social Work from NYU and a PhD in Health Education (sp. Human Sexuality) also from NYU. She did a training fellowship with the NYU Medical Center Dept of Psychology in Sexual Therapy. She is an Asst Clinical Professor of OBGYN and Psychology at Northwestern. So yes, she does have expertise in this area, and the “Dr. Laura” in her name is a title that is directly applicable to this discussion. Second, I watched the segment also. To answer your concerns, I watched it just now a second time to look for the issues you were raising.
After LI sets up the segment by referring to PP as the largest abortion provider in the US and getting in the talking point that they receive 500 million in government funding (which ignores that this isn’t abortion funding – it’s for all the educational services that PP provides), LI asks about the clinic not alerting parents about what the teens are getting, or making the teens tell their parents, when the teens are picking up contraception pills. LB responds directly to this, reminding LI that in California this is legal – you do not need to get parental consent for contraception or for std testing.
LI admits that LB is correct about this but then tries to pull out a technicality in California law about school districts can’t provide medication to minors without a doctor’s prescription and parental consent even for aspirin. (This is a prior law that has nothing to do with STDs and contraception – the more recent law overrides this, which LI should know but is deliberately dissembling about) LI then tries to confuse this by bringing up that the schools are already overburdened and what is this clinic doing there?
LB answers directly that the clinic is protecting the teens from an epidemic health problem that we face in this country. LB lists multiple statistics about teen pregnancy and STDs and clarifies that it’s worse in the Latina community, which is where this school is located. LB notes this is a big health issue and that the clinic is not breaking any laws by providing the teens with needed education. LB also starts to acknowledge that parents should be the primary sex educators of their kids, but before she can finish the thought, LI shouts her down again.
LI repeats the “nation’s largest abortion provider” talking point about PP and ties that to their setting up shop in the school. LI then goes for the first “gotcha”, asking what happens if a teen comes in saying they’re pregnant – would the clinic just refer the teen down the street to the PP clinic to get a $300 abortion?"
LB directly answers that “Maybe they are” but reminds LI that abortion is legal in this country. LI interjects before LB can finish “Follow the money.” LB tries to continue her point – that whatever LI’s moral or ethical issues with abortion, it is legal in this country, and if LI doesn’t like that, she should go out and vote to change it.
LI then tries the second “gotcha”, this one going for the talking point that if LB approves of a PP clinic at a school, would she admit that abstinence is the only way to stop pregnancy and STDs. LB directly answers yes, but that not in terms of abstinence-only education, because that’s been proven not to work. LB stresses that abstinence-BASED education, which is what this clinic does, is what has been statistically proven to work.
LI shouts LB down yet again, saying “Well, you’re admitting that this doesn’t work either, they’re still getting pregnant!” LB keeps going, noting that this is what was learned from the prior presidential administration for 8 years where they had abstinence-only and it didn’t work, so the current administration has shifted gears and this is what PP does…
LI goes for the final “gotcha” before LB can finish her point, shouting her down and asking about having a chastity clinic or counseling service rather than the PP clinic.
LB gets interrupted, loses her place, and then answers again that we can try that, but thatâs what was done for 8 years under the Bush presidency and it didnât work, where abstinence-based education has been statistically proven to work. LI cuts her off for the last time with the comments âWeâll see if this âworksâ. They make a lot of money from one thing, I know that.â And then she ends the segment.
So what do we see happening here? The usual Laura Ingraham interview. She has a preset group of talking points sheâs trying to hit, in order to establish a specific narrative. When her guest agrees with her and fills in the appropriate answers, Ingraham can move on to her next puzzle piece until, voila! We have an incredible conclusion and it just happens to line up with Ingrahamâs beliefs.
What was Ingraham asking here, and where was she going with this? She was going with the right wing meme of PP as a giant abortion provider now setting up shop on a high school campus where she implies they should not be, and in an environment where parents should have the say about what is being said to their teenage children. She attempts to buttress this with an older California law about parents needing to approve medications, hoping that her guest wonât respond with the fact that itâs legal to provide the services this clinic does. She then goes farther in implying that the school is already overburdened and really, what is this clinic doing there anyway? She then answers her own question with another one â what happens when teens go into the clinic trying to get an abortion â isnât the clinic just going to refer the kids down the street to the abortion provider where for $300 they can abort their pregnancy? And she follows that with the quip âFollow the moneyâ. She then tries to make the case that the only guaranteed prevention to these issues is abstinence and why donât they just have a chastity clinic rather than having PP there. She ends the whole thing with another quip about how much money PP makes from abortions.
If you look at it with an unfazed eye, youâll see that sheâs trying to get her guest to agree with her that somehow PP is putting this unnecessary clinic on a high school campus to generate more abortion dollars for themselves right under the school and the parentsâ noses. When her guest did not fall into any of the traps of this pre-conceived condemnation, Ingraham got more and more frustrated, repeatedly cutting off her answers and finally ending the interview with one of her trademark quips.
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