Commissioner, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
Professor of Government, Harvey Mudd College (Claremon)
Member, Calif. State Dept. of Education, Working Committee on Constitutional Literacy
Advisor, Committee to Draft the History-Social Sciences Framework
of the Calif. State Dept. of Education
Education Member, National Endowment for the Humanities
Chairman’s Advisory Group on Elementary and Secondary Humanities Education
The California State Assembly, Standing Committee on Education
AB 3724 School-based Clinics – Contraceptives
I would like to thank the members of the committee for the opportunity to address them on this most important and controversial issue, concerning the purpose of our schools, the limits of our public powers and the rights of parents in the education of their children.
In the limited time available to me, I am not going to speak of the effect of the distribution of contraceptives among the young, the increased promiscuity and the resulting health hazards. You know, as well as I do, that any statistical studies, favorable to school-distributed contraceptives, really demonstrate only their use among sexually active students, not the extent to which more young students have in fact been encouraged to become sexually active (Kasun, 1986).
I leave aside discussion of the proper role of our schools in the moral education of our children, in order to address the central question: do not the proponents of juvenile contraception in fact urge the spread of undisciplined and sterile sexuality among the next generation of Americans? Will promiscuous young students have the stamina and maturity to concentrate on their most important study, the study to improve themselves?
Further, there is the question of who is being encouraged to engage in this sterile promiscuity or rather, promiscuous sterility? Perhaps the best way to broach this issue is to consider the most authoritative, but seriously flawed, Johns Hopkins study of school-based clinics (Zabin et al, 1985). In that study, the target schools were exclusively black; the control schools, for statistical purposes, were racially mixed, but only the black students were included within the control group. Thus, the purpose of the Johns Hopkins study was to demonstrate, not that school-distributed contraceptives improved the academic performance or practical achievements of students, but rather that school-distributed contraceptives prevent the production of black babies—in perhaps half of the cases of those who then become sexually active.
Many obstacles, many perhaps conscious, hinder discovering the extent to which school-distributed contraception is targeted at minority students, precisely because the only people who have such information are the ideologues who implement the programs, and they refuse to release the information revealing their actual intentions. But we will gather this information, for we have grounds to suspect violations of Title IV of the Civil Rights Act. We will see.
In the meantime we have evidence to show that school-distributed contraception is targeted almost exclusively at minority students, testimony from Chicago, St. Louis, Washington, and Los Angeles, among others. The Pittsburgh Courier presents statistics arguing that “once again, the black community has been targeted for decimation and ultimately the destruction of black family traditions and black life” (May 17. 1986). In Chicago, every clinic is in a school exclusively black; a lawsuit there contends that, “the clinic program is a calculated, pernicious effort to destroy the very fabric of family life among black parents and their children.” Dr. Kasun, at Humboldt State, tells us that, even when clinics are located in rural area schools, they are aimed at Latino migrant workers, still relatively unaffected by the spread of teen pregnancy. And growing files of evidence indicate that clinic organizers attach little priority to fostering contraception among the children in predominantly white schools, even when the teen- pregnancy rate in white schools is higher than among minorities.
No one doubts that many black and Latino families are under enormous pressures; what you must realize is that the furtive distribution of contraceptives to black and Latino children is part of the problem, not part of the solution. To rely on Planned Parenthood and the Center for Population Options to organize school-based clinics is, in the words of columnist Walter Williams, “like calling in the arsonist to put out the fire.” We may not be dealing with any particular animus against black and Latino children from those who wish to encourage sterile promiscuity among our children. They may target blacks and Latinos simply because they think that they can get away with it. They must not get away with it. No longer should we allow the eugenicists to tamper with our children. No more should we allow the heedless social reformers to shake and loosen our families. This bill, AB 3725, will help us in the effort to protect our children. I urge its speedy passage.
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You might be saying to yourselves, now, that the purpose of the distribution of contraceptives to black and Latino children is their improvement. After all, if “minority children” can be saved from the burdens of early and large families, then they can go on to college and medical school, becoming doctors and lawyers, buying nice condominiums and cars, expanding the market for California’s fine Chablis. After all, once the various ethnic groups of white immigrants "made it" in America, they all stopped having early and large families; so, if we want to help blacks and Latinos to “make it” in America, ought we not to help them do the same? After all, as any sensitive young executive knows, children are a terrible drain on disposable income. Even the priests and ministers in the minority communities themselves bewail the glut of teenage pregnancies and unwed mothers, “babies having babies,” as one wag has said. Who, after all, expects black and Latino kids to cultivate discipline enough to resist their animal urges or to become responsible enough to stick together as families?
But face the facts: we know that, certain minorities aside, Americans have attained, and even fallen below, “zero population growth.” Americans are no longer reproducing themselves, except in the case of certain minorities. Can we be certain, in the face of this evidence, that we are not dealing with a sort of tired annoyance with the threatening fertility of the disadvantaged?
Let me refer you, for a moment, to the words of Margaret Sanger. For those of you who do not know, Margaret Sanger was the mother, or anti-mother, of Planned Parenthood, first known as the American Birth Control League, the first and still foremost proponent of racial improvement through eugenics. Let me read to you her words of 1939:
The most successful educational appeal to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We do not want word to get out that we want to extinguish the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea, if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members. (Letter to Clarence Gamble, October 19, 1939)
This is Planned Parenthood speaking. This is the voice of decadent paternalism, unwilling to surrender its privileges to those, poorer to be sure, but more energetic, more hopeful of the future, more in love with life and therefore more loving of children. Let me remind you that the Planned Parenthood Federation still gives out Margaret Sanger Awards, awards dedicated to the memory of an admirer of Hitlerian eugenics, dedicated to the memory of a racist who constantly complained about the “swarming and spawning” of the "diseased and defective elements of humanity". Racist eugenics has acquired a new leasehold in the movement to distribute contraceptives to minority school children.
The trials of life in modern times are difficult, to be sure, and above all for our young, all too often left unguided. We owe to them everything we can give to foster in their characters an increase of strength and resilience. Nor does that responsibility fall solely on the shoulders of the families. The community entire fathers and mothers its young. Accordingly, I admire your intention to undertake that responsibility with sensitivity to the fact that what we abstain from doing is no less important than what we positively undertake, when it comes to shaping youthful character.
To abstain from actions designed to foster promiscuity and broad sexual experimentation is wholly justified. Nor should we permit frustration with the behavior of youths to persuade us to abandon our hopes for them; as some do when they say that students will be promiscuous anyway. I would rather we resolved in all that we do faithfully and constantly to bear witness to the fact that we expect, provide for, and reward the best conduct by our youth. I am sure that each of you will agree that sexual discipline is far preferable to sexual promiscuity and, further, that the gratuitous and general distribution of contraceptives can convey no message compatible with sexual discipline and familial responsibility.