Why is sex ed about how not to have babies?

UK conservative columnist and Member of the European Parliament Daniel Hannan questions “the purpose of sex education in schools”, which “tends to focus on contraception”.

In a column in the Sunday Telegraph he notes that with the average age of childbearing rising to 30, “doctors are starting to suggest that that approach is 180 degrees wrong” - that according to the Fertility Education Initiative, “Instead of teaching young people how to avoid babies”, society “should teach them how to make babies”.

As Mr Hannan observes, birth rates across the world have been falling with increasing prosperity and family size has been shrinking as infant mortality decreases. This “demographic transition”, which began in the late 19th century in the developed world, is a well-known fact.

But after World War II population control ideologues aimed to curb birth rates in the developing world rather than letting economic development accomplish the task. Rather than admitting that people make prosperity, they promoted the “cake” theory of economics, claiming that more poor people meant less for everyone else.

In the Western world, greater prosperity brought greater longevity, but the population control movement blamed the increase in total population on “uncontrolled breeding”. From the 1960s it deliberately promoted the “second demographic transition” – forcing down birth rates with birth control backed up by abortion, an approach which moreover provided moral justification for imposing population control in poorer countries.

Most people would assume that sex education is indeed meant to explain how babies are made, but the sex education campaign began as part of the population control movement, and the idea was always to promote the use of birth control, and later, abortion.

However, their aim was camouflaged by the emphasis on “how to have sex”, and in the end their approach was grudgingly accepted as birth control seemed better than an “explosion” of teenage pregnancies, which the “birth-control-and-sex” approach actually encouraged.

Now to the non-procreational sex approach has been added the promotion of the “trans” idea, which has proved far more successful than promoting same-sex behaviour, because people seem less comfortable about the suggestion that pre-pubertal children may be “gay”, necessarily implying sexual activity, than being “trans”, which is regarded more as a question of identity.

However, as a population control measure it is far more effective – especially when uncritically advertised on television and elsewhere - for while same-sex attraction is not immutable, a child embarking on the “trans” journey may receive puberty-blocking chemicals, and undergo surgery that will irrevocably ruin their chances of reproduction – in effect, they will be sterilised.

As Mr Hannan says, fertility is something to celebrate, not something to be guarded against like a communicable disease.

And although developed countries may now be entering a “population winter” in which reversing the birth dearth may be more difficult than assumed, perhaps before we despair of our “ageing population” we should be asking why, as a nation, we are sacrificing around 190,000 new lives every year – future citizens who could contribute to our prosperity.

Rather than regarding their elimination as some sort of “saving”, we should be investing in the future by valuing children and promoting marriage as the best place in which to have them.

Procreation is a natural instinct, and unless the anti-natalists can stop teaching children that children are an unfortunate outcome of “having sex”, it would be better to keep them out of the classroom altogether, not just for the sake of children but for the whole nation.

Ann Farmer lives in the UK. She is the author of By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign (CUAP, 2008); The Language of Life: Christians Facing the Abortion Challenge (St Pauls, 1995), and Prophets & Priests: the Hidden Face of the Birth Control Movement (St Austin Press, 2002).


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