Jane Mauldon

Recent Articles

Does Liberalism Cause Sex?

Conservatives say liberalized access to contraceptives and sex education in the schools have led to more unprotected teen sex and teen births. But let's look at the evidence.

The drumbeat of criticism that eventually drove Joycelyn Elders out of office as Surgeon General may be only a fading memory, but the controversies over sex education and contraception that dogged her tenure linger on. To conservatives, nothing symbolizes the illusions of liberalism better than the failure of permissive sexual policies. In the years since contraceptives became widely available and schools began offering sex education, haven't kids become more promiscuous? Aren't births to unmarried teenage mothers soaring? Therefore, conservatives say, the government ought to practice some abstinence of its own and stop sex education in our schools and programs that promote contraception. But, like so many conservative arguments that appeal to a general sense of social decline, this one ignores some well-established facts. More teenagers use contraception, they use it sooner after starting sex, and they are becoming more sophisticated about its use. Pregnancy rates among sexually...