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My Take: Welcome back, culture wars (and Rick Santorum)
Opponents of Proposition 8, California's anti-gay marriage bill, outside the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday.
February 8th, 2012
11:09 AM ET

My Take: Welcome back, culture wars (and Rick Santorum)

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

So much for the cease-fire in the culture wars.

With the rise of the tax-focused tea party, the slump into recession and the emergence of Occupy Wall Street, U.S. politics was supposed to turn to economic matters. But recent developments on the Holy Trinity of bedroom issues — gay marriage, abortion and contraception — demonstrate that the culture wars are alive and well and (among other things) propelling Rick Santorum to a clean sweep on Tuesday in Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado.

Last month, the Obama administration announced a new rule requiring that health insurance plans offer birth control to women for free. This rule specifically exempts, on religious liberty grounds, Catholic churches, but it does not exempt Catholic-affiliated institutions such as universities, hospitals and charities.

In recent days, the Obama administration has been pummeled in the press by Catholic leaders and Republican presidential candidates for purportedly sacrificing religious liberty at the altar of its health plan. On Tuesday, Romney called the policy an "assault on religion."  Earlier, Bishop of Phoenix Thomas Olmsted sent a letter to his flock stating, "We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law."

The abortion fight has also been running hotter, with the Komen Foundation cutting funding for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood, only to reverse course a few days later under tremendous pressure from supporters of abortion rights.

Then comes the federal appeals court in San Francisco, which by a 2-1 vote overturned on Tuesday a California referendum banning same-sex marriage approved in 2008. According to this three-judge panel, Proposition 8 violated the 14th Amendment right to “equal protection” of California’s gay men and lesbians.

So once again U.S. politics has turned to sex, religion, privacy and conscience, and the culture warrior par excellence in the Republican field, Rick Santorum, is for the moment at least the latest new non-Romney thing.

One side (the left) speaks of rights: the rights of women to privacy and protective health care and the rights of men and women of all sexual orientations to choose whom they want to marry. The other side (the right) speaks of religious liberty and the downfall of a society so married to moral relativism that it can't even protect the unborn and a tradition as venerable as heterosexual matrimony.

David Axelrod, a key Obama political adviser, signaled Tuesday on television and radio that the Obama administration might be up for a compromise of some sort on the birth control issue, but none of these bedroom issues is going away, at least not until the 2012 presidential election is over.

But just how deeply ingrained are these divisions inside the American public? Not so deep, really.

In a 2006 book called, "Is There a Culture War?" James Davison Hunter and Alan Wolfe disagreed fiercely over the reach and power of the culture wars, but they agreed on one thing: These wars are fought by politicians and pundits far more than by ordinary Americans.

Take the question of birth control. While the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has raised a stink, most U.S. Catholics are actually in favor of the rule. So if the bishops want to go to war, they may well find they won’t have any foot soldiers.

According to a poll released Tuesday by the Public Religion Research Institute, 52% of Catholic voters support the Obama administration requirement that health plans cover prescription birth control without a co-pay. A similar poll, also released Tuesday, conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of Planned Parenthood, found that 53% of Catholic voters support the Obama administration on this question.

On gay marriage, polling also indicates that ordinary Americans are nowhere near as divided as are pundits and politicians. A Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday shows a remarkable convergence on this question between 1996, when the overwhelming majority (65%) of Americans opposed gay marriage, and 2011, when only a minority (46%) do.

But Pew did not just poll Americans as a whole. It broke down its results by generation, and here the findings are telling. While only 37% of baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) support gay marriage today, that figure rises to 64% among millennials (born after 1980).

Finally, on the abortion question, ordinary Americans seem far less agitated than their elected representatives. Over the past decade, poll after poll has shown that most Americans want abortion to be legal yet far less common. A 2011 Gallup poll is typical. Although Americans remain split between the "pro-life" and "pro-choice" labels, only 20% think abortion should be illegal in all circumstances, while 77% say it should be legal under all or some circumstances.

The takeaway? While the culture wars are, to Santorum's delight, with us at least until November, the cultural questions that beset us are likely to shift and shift quickly. Conservative Republicans can read polls as well as liberal Democrats can, and as the years go by, there will be less and less political hay to be made by opposing gay marriage or contraception.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Bishops • Catholic Church • Church and state • Culture wars • Gay marriage • Mitt Romney • Politics • Rick Santorum • Same-sex marriage • Sex • United States

soundoff (738 Responses)
  1. Descarado

    The indelible signature of every dictatorship throughout human history is the unconditional demand upon the citizen to disavow its own burning conscience in favor of the state.

    The Obama regime just lost the traditionally conservative, working class Catholic voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania with its bonehead mandate..

    February 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • fireobama

      Agreed....Obama wishes to impose his values on a nation and is showing his complete ignorance of Americans in the process. FIRE OBAMA 2012!!!!!

      February 9, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • The Difference

      Hey Descarado (Shameless), it's precisely because the people don't want a Republican dictatorship to feed them their line of bull that they are going to Obama in 2012! If you think Obama is a dictator, brother, just wait to see what a Republican president and Congress can do to TAKE AWAY your rights in this country! We've seen it before and continue seeing it now! Look no further than Santorum! That's what's so predominant about this race and why people are not being fooled this time around to vote Republicant! If you want Freedoms in America Vote Obama! However, if you want Severely Restricted Freedoms and Egregious Laws to Control and Punish who you are and what you believe in, vote Republican!

      February 9, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • J.W

      A conservative would not have voted for Obama in the first place.

      February 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Aezel

      Whatever you say, it doesn't change the fact that your side is losing, so tough s**t don't let the door hit you on the way to irrelevancy.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  2. Kimo

    I don't want a President who is so narrow minded that he can't listen to facts from his advisers and I do not want a President who does not believe in science. Santorum might be an honest person, and that would be refreshing, but he is too dogmatic to lead a democratic nation full of diverse cultures and competing interests. George Bush supposedly said that God told him to invade Iraq. We don't need any more of that nonsense.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • fireobama

      Wow....you Obama idiots still complaining about Bush. It's Obamas White House now.....and he has been a disaster, Santorum would be a refreshing change from the Muslim apology President!!!!

      February 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  3. William

    http://www.incogman.net for the truth about Obama's stance on gay rights.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  4. DC from NJ

    Chris, you're missing the whole point. Unlike the religious extremists (such as Santorum), liberals do not try to force their moral beliefs on everyone because we don't think we receive instructions from some mythical being in the sky. We believe that people should be able to make their own choices about contraception, abortion, etc. If you don't want to practice contraception or have an abortion, you don't have to; just don't force the rest of us to make the same decisions as you.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • DancingInPDX

      Couldn't have said it better myself. It's the difference between acceptance of everyone else's beliefs, even if you don't adhere to them yourself, versus imposing your view of morality on everyone else. Santorum and his followers are American's answer to the Taliban.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • John H.

      You are absolutely right. I don't believe I should commit murder or robbery, and I don't think those beliefs should be imposed on anyone else. So have at it. Go out and shoot a few people. Why should I care?

      February 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Jeff C.

      John, you totally miss the point. Robbery and murder negatively impact other living people (one makes them dead, an the other deprives them of property). Gay marriage harms NO ONE. As a republican and former anti-gay marriage person, I have seen that gay marriage does nothing to negatively impact any other person. I lived in MA for a while, and once gay marriage became legal, we saw no crumbling of the fabric of society. Stephen is correct. Eventually the right wing evangelicals will realize they do not have the political footing to keep beating the drum of those who put all their stock in an unseen god and a book with dubious origins.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  5. open400

    We have far too many economic problems to be side tracked with making this "Cultural war" the central issue of the 2012 election. the reason the GOP is making this an issue is they have to accept the reality the economy is slowly but surely getting better.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  6. open400

    IThe people that founded this country were religious, but feared state run religion. Our founders were well aware of the impact of religious fanaticism in European history – The Crusades, the Inquisition, The Wars of the Protestant Reformation and the Salem witch trials. Our founding father did not want this for America. They wanted freedom of religion, but no state run religion, no official state Bible and no official Church of America. There have been numerous court decision that have ruled that church-sponsored healthcare providers have reasonable secular obligations. If I am Marxist atheist and involved in a car accident right in front of a Christian hospital , could that Christian hospital deny me emergency medical admission ? If a Jehovah's Witness, could I object to federal funding that cover blood transfusions? Let’s leave the patient doctor relationship alone and give individual accessibility to reasonable medical care based on the patient’s morality, not the morality of a specific church group.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  7. Common Sense

    I love how the "men" on the photo display their separate but equal sign as if this is a civil rights case. Here's a newsflash, they have the same rights everybody else has. They have the right to marry someone of the opposite gender. Just like me, and everyone in this country. I dont have any special rights that a g.a.y. person doesn't. So dont invoke imagery and language from the civil rights era which was over Race. Not the choice of se_xuality.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Patrick

      Logic fail

      According to a number of states and growing It is a civil rights issue and it is moving forward. Do a Google search of the number of states that allow gay marriage compared to ten years ago. You’re losing…deal with it.
      But let’s say it is a ‘special right” just for the sake of argument. So what.. how does it affect you? Oo that right it doesn’t …moron.

      I’m straight btw.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Inglourious

      Why do you think it is a choice? Did you choose your gender preference? Did you choose it just once when you were young, or do you make your choice on a daily basis?

      February 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Its actually not a "logic fail" as you so arrogantly put it. Since we ALL have the right to marry someone of the opposite Gender, it is in fact a "special right." Therefore invoking imagery and language from the civil rights era which was about RACIAL inequality in this country it is in NO WAY the same situation or same civic problem that Blacks faced in this country. That was my point. Maybe you should do some comprehensive reading lessons, because you missed my point entirely, instead making it an opportunity to be a d.o.u.c.h.e. I dont care if g.a.y.s want to marry. That's their problem. But dont treat it like a civil rights issue akin to blacks in this country and what they went through.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Charles

      You might want to do a little more research, "Common Sense". Civil rights is broader than race. Much broader than race.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • and...

      So when did you choose to be straight? YOU DIDN'T. Your biology lead you there. You are embarrassing yourself with this specious and totally out-of-date line of thinking.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Patrick

      @Common Sense
      Logic fail #2

      The part you keep glossing over is “right to marry someone of the opposite Gender”.
      You can continue to say it isn’t a civil rights issue while state after state says it is…doesn’t help your cause. Don’t like it..tough…take it up with the states. These people are fighting for quality and you want to argue semantics…the d.o.u.c.h.e here is you sir.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • J.W

      But they don't have the right to marry the person that they love. That is the difference.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • Common Sense

      @ Inglorious: I dont have to make a choice, I had a healthy se.xual life growing up. As a child/adolescent my se.xuality was affirmed and reinforced as straight and as a result I like the gender with which I can reproduce as I believe I was designed to do. Please prove to me how it is a "natural" thing to want to have s.ex with something that is not biologically complementary? If you're an evolutionist, this is a contradiction (and if genetically predisposed, it is an unbeneficial mutation). Please point to scientific evidence that supports the hope that ho.mo.se.xuality is genetic.....oh, btw it doesnt exist

      February 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Inglourious

      Common Sense: you just said that being straight was not natural for you, but rather it was affirmed and reinforced by your developmental environment. I am "naturally" straight in that I am not attracted to members of my own gender; I was born that way.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Yeah, you're still missing the point, which I'm not surprised. I dont care if g.ays want to marry. But using the language similar to racial struggle is completely different. Race is genetic and cannot be taken away. Hom.o.se.xuality is not genetic. If it was, they'd be able to prove it scientifically without a doubt, and they haven't. Se.xuality is so complex and affected by so many different variables, no one could possibly pin down just one factor, especially in your genes. Once again, I dont care if they get married. But if you're going to give special rights to people like this, then you have to give special rights to others like polygamists.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • John B

      It all comes down to this. Some people see the world as how they are and what they want as the whole world and cannot condone differences in others.. They cannot put themselves in other peoples shoes. In the death of common sense, the author writes about why in the world do we have to pay to make all sidewalks wheel chair accessible when there are not that many people in a wheel chair? Classic case- he's not in a wheel chair- he can walk wherever he wants. It's the same here. There are plenty of people who are not gay but can imagine how sad it would be to love someone but not be able to marry them. I don't know exactly why some people can empathize easily and others can't. But, basically – this ability majorly shapes your opinion on most any topic.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Common Sense

      @ Inglorious: Really? I said "being straight is not natural for me?" Really? Where? I can read, and I'm struggling to find that statement. It sounds like you are the one making that argument. I am straight, I WAS BORN STRAIGHT, as I believe we all are designed to be attracted to the opposite gender (I actually said that, I can quote it, but you can read too, so I'll let you). If we become attracted to a gender which is not complementary to our anatomy and reproductive capabilities, that would be an abnormality. Not physically predetermined, but created. Created by society, parents and often traumatic se.xual history. Until science can prove without a doubt that some are genetically predisposed toward being g.ay, then its a pipe dream. Its a hope to call a deviation something that is out of our control.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Patrick

      @Common Sense
      Logic fail #3

      >as a result I like the gender with which I can reproduce as I believe I was designed to do. Please prove to me how it is a "natural" thing to want to have s.ex with something that is not biologically complementary? If you're an evolutionist, this is a contradiction

      G00gle hom.ose.xuality in the animal kingdom. Not only has this been docu.mented globally, it is even common for some species.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Patrick

      @Common Sense
      Logic fail #3

      >as a result I like the gender with which I can reproduce as I believe I was designed to do. Please prove to me how it is a "natural" thing to want to have s.ex with something that is not biologically complementary? If you're an evolutionist, this is a contradiction

      Google hom.ose.xuality in the animal kingdom. Not only has this been docu.mented globally, it is even common for some species.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Common Sense

      Yes I know this phenomena. A Better question would be...Does it result in reproduction of the species? Also, do the same animals who are doing this behavior exclusively engage in hom.ose.xual behavior? Science says they dont exclusively engage in this behavior, and that it is a compulsion. Do you think they love each other but are sad that they dont have the right to be marrried? Sorry, but here's you logical fail.....

      February 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • J.W

      Common Sense when have you ever seen a straight animal couple get married?

      February 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Common Sense

      That was a joke JW. Stay with me

      February 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Patrick

      K. O.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Inglourious

      Common Sense: You said it yourself: " As a child/adolescent my se.xuality was affirmed and reinforced as straight and as a result I like the gender... ". You did not say you were straight because you were born that way, you said you were straight "as a result" of straightness being affirmed and reinforced as you were growing up.

      February 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Aezel

      You can make up stuff all you want Common Sense but your side is losing and will continue to. Enjoy your fail.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  8. Chris

    Why the dramatic difference in opinions among the generations?
    Indoctrination! The writer is correct, liberals are winning the war, by educating the future generations into their line of thinking.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  9. jf

    Theocracy is un-American!

    February 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  10. Don Jones

    Boy you are going to love Santorum. And you thought GWB was DUMB!

    February 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  11. JohnRJohnson

    The definition of religious extremism is any belief which leaves no room for doubt. Doubt functions in two ways: it is the enabling factor of faith and it moderates our religious fervor. If you have no doubt about the substance of your faith - if you know it to be absolutely factual in every way - then you are a religious extremist. If you have no doubt about the tenets of your faith or its origin, then you are an extremist. Religious extremists tend to be other-worldly and glorify death. They act on scriptures as if they are literal instructions from God, rather than parables. They also tend to seize on specific passages of their holy books and use them to justify their treatment of others. In doing so, they develop an enormous sense of pride and arrogance about their righteousness. When a person constantly refers to their religious piety and relationship with God, they are signaling you that their points of view on just about any subject are sanctioned by God Himself. You can't argue with them or debate them because their thinking is not built on a foundation of logic. These people are a threat to genuine democracy and personal freedoms because they are devoted to imposing their belief system on everybody around them. It is their mission to convert. If they can't convert, then they must control. Everyone. We see this in the bearded mullahs and Imams of the Mideast, the founders of various cults, and we see it in the religious right of the United States. The only person who is more dangerous than the religious extremist is the fake extremist - the person who pretends to share a belief in order to gain trust and support. That person is shameless hypocrite who holds nothing sacred at all and who will say or do anything to achieve his objective. To varying degrees, all of the Republican candidates fit into this latter category. Their success relies on the ignorance and gullibility of their supporters.

    February 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • realitypgh

      You go JohnRJohnson !!!! That seems to cover it all.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Chris

      What is the difference between what you stated and non-religious extremist. Why does their forcing of their beliefs on those you term as religious not count. The true hypocrisy is that you can't see that you do the very thing you claim is wrong. Why do you feel the need to force your beliefs on me and others.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Patrick

      @ Chris
      Logic fail.

      The non-religious are not forcing anything on you by extending rights to others. Therein lies the difference. Giving the RIGHT of marriage to others does not in any way affect you or your rights. However DENYING the right of marriage to all does.

      Another way to explain it.
      Non-religious = more rights, opening doors, adding.
      Religious = restricting rights, locked in the closet, hate crimes.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • WachetAuf

      That is insightful. Many, probably not all, who call themselves "Christians" (or who call themselves by the name of any other religion) have no ability for the reflection needed to know the truth on almost any issue. They simply "parrott" what is fed to them. They are either intellectually unable or emotionally unwilling to peel back and analyze the layers of the real life which we are given. They have assumed a false self which will not allow them admit to the doubt which you describe. But, the even greater issue for me is that they do not know what it means to follow Jesus' teachings, No one ever demands, or even invites, thems to integrate those teachings into their every day interactions with their neighbors. They are lead by preachers who feed them anger and fear. They are lead by politicians who are corrupting the teachings of Jesus who somehow believe that it is "Christian" to vent their self-righteous contempt on those who are not a part of their "tribe". The only way that they can justify their self-righteous contempt is to rationalize that they are the pure, that they have not doubt. If they were to finally begin to admit their doubt that would open the door to questions about their sins against their neighbors. The pure world which their "tribes" have created for them would unravel. Thus, the reason for the rigid certainty of their beliefs. Their tribes and their sheltered lives would unravel.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  12. realitypgh

    Where is the SEPARTATION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE?

    February 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • realitypgh

      SEPARATION, please excuse my spelling,, typing too fast ,,, short lunch today

      February 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  13. HUNGLIKEABIRD

    ...also ,Sockpuppet. I saw Jesus's face this morning in burnt toast and even HE said you're an Idiot!

    February 9, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  14. Lindsey

    I wish Repooplicans would be as ardently supportive of Americans governing their own lives and bodies without intereference by government, as they are ardent supporters of "small government", i.e., tax gifts for the rich. Because what these a$$h0les spout on any given day is decidedly NOT anything remotely near "small government", but an unholy theocracy of forcing people to toe the God line. Um....you will NEVER get me to do that, dears. I promise you.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • drp146

      Yes, it's only small government for them when it pertains to letting corporations have their way. When it comes to any other issue, they will use all the government power they can muster to intrude as far as that power will take it. The Republican party is the hypocrisy party.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • Briman

      umm....and you think the Democratic party does??? they want more involvement in peoples social and economic lives....you my friend are describing libertarianism...

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarianism

      February 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  15. clarke

    Does Rick believe in his faith first and then maybe our bill of rights and the consitutation. I believe that if you want to be President of all the people, you support the bill of rights and the consitutation first, not your faith and personal belief. Religion is personal and should remain so. A President is for all the people, not just those that believe as you do. I disagree with Rick that Obama is destroying family. He has based that on his belief not on our personal liberties and freedoms sent forth by the bill of right and the consituation.

    February 9, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  16. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    February 9, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • Nope

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs."""~~~~~~~~~~~~

      February 9, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • Zargoth

      & religion has not killed millions? & before you say it, Stalin/Hitler/Mao were just in the business of replacing one (or several) religions with one based upon themselves.

      It is faith that is the problem. Rationality is not something those three so-called atheists had in abundance; it was just power at any cost, by any means, & those means were as irrational as any religion...

      February 9, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Stuck in the Middle

      I'm sure that the believers in Zeus, Ra, etal thought the exact same thing.
      PS, your myth is no better than theirs.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • txwoodworker

      Yep. It changes your ability to think rationally.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Remember This

      Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things, neither was the INQUISITION! Though you may well love reading about so many innocent people being killed for a phony cause in the name of religion!

      February 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
  17. Jeff in San Diego

    I notice how Reality's facts mention the "first year of use" which only shows that teens need to be taught how to use contraceptives for them to be effective. Which would be easy if it weren't for the abstinence only balogna that is being crammed down our children's throats.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:43 am |
  18. w

    February 9, 2012 at 1:10 am |
    • bigfoot

      sucks

      February 9, 2012 at 3:29 am |
    • Foghorn Leghorn

      LOL @ bigfoot

      February 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  19. Reality

    One does not need Planned Parenthood to teach our kids about se-x. Simply read and have your kids read the following:

    WARNING!!! WARNING!!! WARNING!!!

    The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate, one million unplanned pregnancies) and male con-doms (17.4% failure rate, another one million unplanned pregnancies ) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Se-xually active teens, young adults and adults must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute.

    Added information before making your next move:

    from the CDC-2006

    "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

    And from:

    Consumer Reports, January, 2012

    "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

    Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

    "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'"
    Obviously,

    Planned Parenthood, parents and the educational system have obviously failed miserably on many fronts.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    February 8, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Reality

      "Facts on Contraceptive Use------>

      http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html
      January 2008

      "WHO NEEDS CONTRACEPTIVES?

      • 62 million U.S. women (and men?) are in their childbearing years (15–44).[1]

      • 43 million women (and men?) of reproductive age, or 7 in 10, are se-xually active and do not want to become pregnant, but could become pregnant if they or their partners fail to use a con-traceptive method.[2]

      • The typical U.S. woman (man?) wants only 2 children. To achieve this goal, she (he?) must use cont-raceptives for roughly 3 decades.[3]

      WHO USES CON-TRACEPTIVES?

      • Virtually all women (98%) aged 15–44 who have ever had int-ercourse have used at least one con-traceptive method.[2](and men?)

      • Overall, 62% of the 62 million women aged 15–44 are currently using one.[2] (and men)

      • 31% of the 62 million women (and men?) do not need a method because they are infertile; are pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant; have never had inte-rcourse; or are not se-xually active.[2]

      • Thus, only 7% of women aged 15–44 are at risk of unwanted pregnancy but are not using con-traceptives.[2] (and men?)

      • Among the 42 million fertile, s-exually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing con-traception.[2] (and men?)

      WHICH METHODS DO WOMEN (men?) USE?

      • 64% of reproductive-age women who practice con-traception use reversible methods, such as oral con-traceptives or condoms. The remaining women rely on female or male sterilization.[2]

      FIRST-YEAR CON-TRACEPTIVE FAILURE RATES

      Percentage of women (men?) experiencing an unintended pregnancy (a few examples)

      Method……………..Typical

      Pill (combined)……… 8.7
      Tubal sterilization ……0.7
      Male condom ……….17.4
      Vasectomy…………… 0.2

      Periodic abstinence.. 25.3 (RCC approved)
      Calendar 9.0 (RCC approved)
      Ovulation Method 3.0 (RCC approved)
      Sympto-thermal 2.0 (RCC approved)
      Post-ovulation 1.0 (RCC approved)

      No method 85.0" (RCC approved and important to women and men wanting to get pregnant)

      (Abstinence) 0 (RCC approved)

      (Masturbation) 0

      More facts about contraceptives from

      guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html

      "CON-TRACEPTIVE METHOD CHOICE

      Cont-raceptive method use among U.S. women who practice con-traception, 2002

      Method No. of users (in 000s) % of users
      Pill………….. 11,661……………. 30.6
      Male condom 6,841……………… 18.0 "

      i.e.
      The pill fails to protect women 8.7% during the first year of use (from the same reference previously shown).

      i.e. 0.087 (failure rate)
      x 62 million (# child bearing women)
      x 0.62 ( % of these women using contraception )
      x 0.306 ( % of these using the pill) =

      1,020,000 unplanned pregnancies
      during the first year of pill use.

      For male condoms (failure rate of 17.4 and 18% use level)

      1,200,000 unplanned pregnancies during the first year of male condom use.

      The Gut-tmacher Inst-itute (same reference) notes also that the perfect use of the pill should result in a 0.3% failure rate
      (35,000 unplanned pregnancies) and for the male condom, a 2% failure rate (138,000 unplanned pregnancies).

      o Conclusion: The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the pill and male condom have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the pill or condoms properly and/or use other methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.

      February 8, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • matt

      What was the unplanned birth rate before contraception?

      February 9, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • bigfoot

      To avoid cancer, just spit instead of swallow.

      February 9, 2012 at 3:32 am |
  20. Concerned

    I just don't understand why abortion is such a big issue! Don't we have BIGGER problems to worry about than what women chose to do with their own bodies? The dollar is becoming worthless, a massive debt with no plans to fix it, trouble in the EU and the world economy in general! Not to mention an energy crisis on the horizon, or the fact that we are destroying the planet we live on....yet abortion and religion take center stage

    February 8, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • sockpuppet

      I mean this in all respect, but do you really not understand why abortion is a big issue to Christians? Christians believe that fetuses are real living humans with souls. So abortion is killing an innocent baby. If you believed hundreds of thousands of babies were being killed each year by the people around you, wouldn't that be at least as important to you as money issues? Wouldn't you want to stop it? I am not saying if this belief is right or wrong or that you should agree with it, I am only trying to explain the perspective of pro-life Christians.

      February 9, 2012 at 9:28 am |
    • Patrick

      > Christians believe that fetuses are real living humans with souls

      And that is where they fail. Both legally and scientifically (as in reality) a fetus is not person. There is also no proof of a soul in adults let alone in a club of cells. In short they live in make believe land and try to force this fantasy on others.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Patrick

      Clump* thank you auto correct.

      February 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.