The XX Factor

Move Over Bristol, Let’s Hear From Obama on Teenage Pregnancy Prevention

While Bristol Palin was enjoying another prime time moment making her ambassadorial debut as the Candie’s Foundation’s abstinence spokesperson - Meghan, you’re right, what dizzy come-hither- hypocrisy is at work there! - you probably missed the Obama administration’s low-key unveiling, in the budget, of its teenage pregnancy prevention approach. Mature discretion in tackling this hot-button issue: Now there’s a style that seems to send the right sober signals. In a minimal, and carefully muted, paragraph in the budget blueprint , the administration emphasizes its support of “evidence-based” programs while clearly aiming not to get both sides all riled up right away. Thus you won’t find such phrases as “comprehensive sex education” and “abstinence-only.” Instead, you’ll find references to “medically-accurate” information and to the “importance of abstinence.”

But don’t bet on the success of efforts to avoid the rhetoric of arousal. Already some reproductive health advocates are complaining that the formulations fudge too much. And it’s not clear that abstinence proponents, whose funding is being cut, are going to buy the administration line, reported in the Wall Street Journal , that they could qualify for funds set aside in a pot for developing and testing “innovative strategies.” They surely can’t hope for a penny if Bristol is their idea of innovation.