Monday, January 26, 2009


Within his first few days in office, President Obama has already stirred up a considerable amount of controversy among conservative right-wing Americans. His recent decision to re-instate funding to groups that provide and/or offer information about abortions has, predictably, caused outrage among evangelicals and conservatives. This peculiar issue of funding, which has been a flip-flop issue between Democrats and Republicans in every administration since Ronald Reagan, has tuoched a nerve on those in America who feel that it is their patriotic duty to ensure that control of women's bodies falls under the hands of old white men.

Interestingly, this funding applies to groups who are offering HIV prevention in Africa. Contraceptives and reproductive technologies that can be used to prevent the spread of AIDS and HIV suffered a dramatic cut in funding under the Bush administration, which is pure insanity. Who cares about the 922 million people who are living with or touched by HIV/AIDS? Because it makes so much sense to preserve one unborn life at the expense of thousands of others.

Obama's decision to re-instate funding also opens the door for organizations to offer realistic and practical sexual health education, rather than the abstinence-only system that infected American schools under the Bush adminsitration. It's about time someone in government realized that abstinence-only education only hurts kids and teens. No matter what kind of education you try to innoculate them with, kids are going to fool around so you had better make sure they know how to keep themselves and their partners safe. As it stands, 82% of teen pregnancies are unplanned; America has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any developed state. It is twice as high as Canada and England, and eight times as high as the Netherlands and Japan! All of these countries include sexual health education in their curriculum. Clearly, there is a problem with abstinence-only education.

American right-wing politicians need to remember that it is not their right to decide what a woman does with her body. Obama's decision on funding will hopefully set a precedent for his stance on women's rights during his period in office. As a man with both a functioning brain and two young daughters, Obama differs from Bush and other conservative politicians in that he can think outside the parametres of his religion in terms of policy-making decisions. Women's rights have been a hot topic for conservatives because it challenges their ideas of gender roles and the ownership of women's bodies. After eight years of fusing religion and policy, it is high time conservatives got a kick back down to the level of everyday people and emerged from the dark ages.

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