The Interwebz were abuzz this weekend with the story of Desmond Hatchett, a 33-year old Tennessee man who has managed to father 30 children ranging in age from toddler to 14 with 11 different women. He brags of having fathered 4 kids in a year, twice. Hatchett is complaining that his minimum wage paycheck can’t cover his child support expenses.
For a moment, let’s set aside the obvious questions, such as “why do you have to have a license to get a dog but not to have a kid?” and “why is it OK to interfere with women’s reproductive choices but we let this guy exercise his free will all over town?”
Instead, we want to call to your attention a fun new piece of legislation in Hatchett’s home state of Tennessee. First you need to know that Tennessee is a state that permits only the teaching of abstinence in its schools, eschewing comprehensive sexual education programs that might have helped some of these young women understand the risks and avoid their pregnancies in the first place.
Now, Tennessee legislators want to go even further. Not content to prohibit teachers from telling kids where babies come from, a new bill would actually bar educators from promotion of “gateway” sexual activities that may lead to sex, such as holding hands.
So you might be interested to learn that the 2012-2013 state budget, signed by Governor Kasich, included a requirement that the Ohio Department of Health apply for federal abstinence-only sex education funds, presumably to ensure our kids are as ignorant as Desmond and his 11 girlfriends about pregnancy and contraception. Ohio’s been down this path before. Governor Strickland vetoed similar provisions (twice!) when they came before him. And the facts back him up:
Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle found that teenagers who received some type of comprehensive sex education were 60 percent less likely to get pregnant or get someone else pregnant. And in 2007, a federal report showed that abstinence-only programs had “no impacts on rates of sexual abstinence.” (-ThinkProgress)
Under Kasich and the GOP legislature, we are moving backwards. Abstinence-only education doesn’t work. Just ask Bristol Palin and Desmond Hatchett.