“Critics Say Government Deleted Web Site Material to Push Abstinence,” reads the New York Times headline. Would one of those critics be the New York Times? No, it is just neutrally relaying Henry Waxman’s concerns. The dispassionate reporter assigned to the story was Teddy Kennedy biographer Adam Clymer.
Close observers of President Bush will recall that he once called Clymer a “major-league asshole.” Clymer has repaid the compliment by serving as a bullhorn for Bush’s critics. Tuesday’s shocking story on the Bush administration’s attempt “to push abstinence” reads like a press release from one of the Democrats’ socially liberal caucuses.
That the Bush administration has removed, among other things, “information on condom use” from a government website smacks of chilling censorship, implies Clymer. Clymer says that “critics” — in other words, he and his friends — are accusing the “Department of Health and Human Services of censoring medical information in order to promote a philosophy of sexual abstinence.”
The department has “quietly expunged information on how using condoms protects against AIDS, how abortion does not increase the risk of breast cancer and how to run programs proven to reduce teenage sexual activity,” writes Clymer. The piece is peppered with comically tendentious phrases like “quietly expunged.” Clymer, hiding behind “protests” from members of Congress and socially liberal advocacy groups, wonders if the department is “bowing to pressure from social conservatives.” Following reasonable orders becomes “bowing to pressure” if those orders don’t hew to Clymer’s liberalism. Also, notice the continuing fiction, which the Times clings to ferociously, that the Bush administration is a captive of social conservatives.
Clymer reminds readers that the “department has previously been accused of subverting science to politics,” though presumably he is not referencing the Clinton years. One might say that withholding information from teens about the failure rate of condoms represents politics over science, or that not closing down homosexual bathhouses and other such petri dishes for disease represents politics over science. But that’s not what Clymer has in mind.
He gives Henry Waxman an unchallenged shot at the Bush administration: “We’re concerned that their decisions are being driven by ideology and not science, particularly those who want to stop sex education.”
Are Waxman’s decisions driven by ideology? No, apparently it is pure science that leads him to approve of teen condom use. This great scourge of the tobacco companies sees great risks in giving teens cigarettes but no risks in giving them condoms — a conclusion reached no doubt through long hours in the lab.
What Clymer considers bad news, most Americans probably consider good news. After the Clinton years, an administration which “promotes a philosophy of sexual abstinence” should not strike too much fear in them.
The outrage is not that condom information has disappeared from a taxpayer-financed website, but that it appeared in the first place. Why should the American taxpayer have to finance the sexual ethos of MTV?
In California, taxpayers pay for a health department website that helps teens and other Californians decide “which birth control method is right for you.” It directs them to taxpayer-subsidized “reproductive health” services — the state euphemism for abortion and free contraceptives — so that they can have a “healthy sex life” and recourse to “confidential family planning.” A state government which obsessively tells teens to abstain from cigarettes can’t bring itself to tell them to abstain from pre-marital sex — and will even help arrange it behind their parents’ backs.
Now state officials are boasting about the dropping teen birth rate, which for the first time in over twenty years has fallen below the national average. This is “great news,” according to state health officials. Teens are behaving more “responsibly,” they say. What they conveniently don’t report is the number of teen pregnancies, a far more revealing number, or the rate of teen STDs and teen promiscuity. The state government’s “great news” amounts to teens learning how to abort and contracept with more ruthless efficiency on the taxpayer’s dime.
It is the sort of success story that Adam Clymer may soon report.