First lady Laura Bush is currently in Africa to talk about the human rights of women and to promote the President’s agenda to eradicate HIV/AIDS. When reporters tried to push her into a corner to get an anti-abstinence response from her, this is what happened, according to The Washington Times:
“I’m always a little bit irritated when I hear the criticism of abstinence, because abstinence is absolutely 100 percent effective in eradicating a sexually transmitted disease,” Mrs. Bush said, before tying her answer in with one of the major themes of her trip, women’s rights in Africa.
“In a country or a part of the world where one in three people have a sexually transmitted deadly disease, you have to talk about abstinence, you really have to,” she said. “In many countries where girls feel obligated to comply with the wishes of men, girls need to know that abstinence is a choice.”
How refreshing to have a first lady who backs her husband’s policies and is not afraid to speak out for abstinence. The United States does not fund agencies that distribute condoms and strongly opposes promoting condoms as a “cure-all” for sexually transmitted diseases. The U.S. has, instead, promoted an ABc program: A means Abstinence is the best choice along with Being faithful in marriage and condoms are an option only when one member of a couple is unwilling or unable to be abstinent or faithful.
The first lady’s clear, unequivocal message powerfully endorses the official U.S. policy and will strengthen U.S. efforts abroad, as well as promote women’s well-being in Africa. Who knows how many lives she saved and how much she encouraged the young women of that great continent?
Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, a former U.S. delegate to the United Nations, is one of CWA’s representatives at the U.N. She is author of the “Sex Pyramid,” a tool for parents to use in talking with their children about sex. She writes a weekly column about sex and society for United Press International.