Rick Perry stumbles and mumbles as he tries to defend abstinence education [VIDEO]
Wondering what kind of intellectual and oratorical firepower the governor of Texas brings to the table? This video reveals all (as does the transcript below).
In this October 2010 interview with Evan Smith of The Texas Tribune, Perry fields a question about why Texas is sticking with its policy of abstinence-only sex ed despite the fact that the state continues to have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the nation. Perry responds simply, “Abstinence works.” When pressed for statistics to back up his claim, Perry says that abstinence has worked in his own life. It’s true that the governor has never gotten pregnant, but that’s hardly a compelling data point on which to base state policy — or, should he become president, national policy.
As Amanda Marcotte points out, “This is fairly typical of the way that anti-choicers play the game. You point out that abstinence-only education doesn’t work; they say abstinence works. … But the question is: Does abstinence-only education work? Which is much different. This is an empirical question. Does scolding kids about how sex is evil make them not do it? The answer is clearly no.”
Q: Governor, why does Texas continue with abstinence education programs when they don’t seem to be working? In fact, I think we have the third highest teen pregnancy rate in the country.
A: Abstinence works.
Q: But we have the third highest teen pregnancy rate among all states in the country. The questioner’s point is, it doesn’t seem to be working.
A: It, it, it works, uhh, maybe it’s the way it’s being taught or the way that it’s being applied out there, but the fact of the matter is, it is the best form of uh, to teach our children.
Q: Can you give me a statistic suggesting it works?
A: I’m just gonna tell ya, I’ma tell ya from my own personal life, abstinence works. And the point is, if, if, if we’re not teaching it, and if we’re not impressing it upon them, then no, but if, if the point is, you know, we’re gonna go stand up here and say listen, y’all go have sex, and go have the whatever is going on, and we’ll worry with that, and here are the, here’s the ways to have safe sex, I’m sorry, call me old-fashioned if you want, but that is not what I’m gonna stand up in front of the people of the state of Texas and say that’s the way we need go and forget about abstinence.
Q: Respect, Governer, that’s not what the questioner’s asking. The questioner is simply saying, we’re spending money on abstinence education, we have the third highest teen pregnancy rate in the country — is there a problem, disconnect between one and the other?
A: [Pause.] I don’t know, look, it, it, it gets in line with, uh, it gets in line with other programs that we have that we spend money on, and do they work 100 percent, or do they work 5 percent, and that’s a bigger and a better issue than, ‘Well, we have the third highest teenage pregnancy rate.’ Uh, are we, on the amount of money that we’re spending, are we getting a return on that that is appropriate?
Q: And your belief is that we are?
RP: I think that those are some dollars that are well spent. For instance, we’re spendin’ dollars to check kids for steroids, right? And what did we find? Seven? 15? And we spent X numbers of, of a — look, I’m –
Q: And you think that’s a poor expenditure?
RP: I’m sayin’ that if, no I’m trying to make a comparable here. If that’s a good expenditure, then I would suggest to you the dollars we’re spending on abstinence education is a good expenditure.
(h/t RH Reality Check)
This is the latest in a series of GINK videos about population and reproduction (or a lack thereof).