Virtue and Public Policy

family planning conference 2013Chastity has had a bad press of late. It almost sounds like something that should have been left in the Victorian era. But it still has an important role now.

A great example of this is the role chastity had in Uganda to bring down its high HIV infection rates. In 1991 it was estimated that 15% of the population was HIV positive. By 2007 the rate had dropped to an estimated 6% of the population, a rate of decrease that was not shared by the neighbouring countries.

The campaign that brought about that reversal emphasized abstinence before marriage and “be faithful” during marriage. This brought about dramatic reductions in sex outside of marriage. Condom use also increased in the early years of the campaign, but only to the same level as neighbouring countries which didn’t see the same drop in HIV rates. In recent years the rates have risen slightly, despite the increasing number of condoms being given away for free. There has also been a general complacency about the epidemic, and reduction on the “be faithful” message.

If there is any doubt about the benefit of promoting chastity, you only need to look the other African countries. Most of Africa has high rates of HIV, with the highest rates in the world in the south. The northern African countries have some of the lowest HIV rates in the world. What’s the difference? The Muslim northern countries strongly discourage sex outside of marriage, and this condemnation of extra-marital sex comes from the government level right down to the personal level.

It’s such a clear and simple message. We know how these infections are spread, and a change in behaviour can stop the spread. However, chastity is opposed by a large and very well-funded ‘reproductive rights’ movement.

New Zealand’s Family Planning Association are holding their “Family Planning Conference 2013” at Te Papa in Wellington 31 October to 2 November.

The first keynote speaker is the President of Planned parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), Cecile Richards. Her topic is “Building a sexual and reproductive health movement”. Her organisation and its affiliates preform about 330 000 abortions a year, and distributes pornographic sex education resources to school children. Planned Parenthood’s growth since its founding has coincided with the growth in numbers of abortions, increased rates of sexually transmitted diseases, as well the emergence and spread of new sexually transmitted diseases. In recent years Planned Parenthood has closed some of its clinics, but continue to perform increasing numbers of abortions.

Chastity is our oldest and most effective tool for fighting sexually transmitted diseases. It protected us before we had comprehensive sex education, condoms, laboratory testing for infection, antibiotics, and modern antiviral therapy. If we would just give it a chance, it would protect our societies from sexually transmitted diseases again. Unlike pills and devices, it protects the heart and soul too.

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