Rep. Steve Toth of Texas Claims Sex Ed Sexually Arouses Teenagers, Causing Pregnancy

What Women Really Think
July 11 2013 11:27 AM

Sex Education Makes Kids "Hot And Bothered," Claims Texas Representative

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The free condom table: Hotter than any porn.

Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

The Texas Freedom Network, an organization dedicated to fighting the religious right's control of Texas government, has decided to call Gov. Rick Perry's bluff. Perry claims that he's interested in women's health and reducing the abortion rate, so TFN is petitioning for a new item that addresses Texas's already high teen birthrate to be added to the special session. The goal: "[E]nding the state’s promotion of failed abstinence-only sex education and installing policies that ensure teaching about birth control, along with abstinence, in high school sex education classes." 

A noble idea, but as the authors of the petition no doubt know, anti-choicers in the state also oppose measures to improve contraception use, despite long-standing evidence that progressive approaches such as better education and contraception access correlate to lower unwanted pregnancy rates. Last week, when a Texas House panel approved another round of abortion restrictions for the legislature to consider, Democrat Rep. Donna Howard decided to confront Republican representatives Bill Zedler and Steve Toth over the anti-choice insistence on withholding critical sex education that could prevent abortions in the first place. Toth shot back with a crazy anecdote to claim that sex education makes teen pregnancy worse. Blessedly, the Houston Chronicle recorded him:

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Texas Freedom Network graciously transcribed this wondrous story. Here's Toth:

My wife worked at a home for unwed moms, and one of the little kids that was born, his name is David. David came about as a result of his mom and dad, who were just 16 at the time, going to a Planned Parenthood deal where they taught them how to use contraceptives. They were not sexually active at that point. They got into the car, and they were so hot and bothered from this deal, he couldn’t even get the condom on.

Howard, who being from Texas no doubt has heard her share of "absolutely true" religious right urban legends demonstrating the evils of all things sexual, got impatient with Toth. "Wow, that's a really interesting anecdote," she replied, barely concealing her sarcasm.

While this entire debacle in Texas has been a whirlwind of foolish things said by anti-choicers whose ignorance is only matched by their self-assurance, this Toth fairytale might be my favorite. Toth would have you believe that high school kids, who have immediate access to all sorts of porn through the phones in their pockets, would be so unbelievably aroused by adults outlining how the birth control pill works in a brightly lit classroom that they would turn immediately into rutting animals. Unfortunately for anti-choicers, this implausible ruse is all they have. After all, you can't oppose both contraception and abortion without people clueing into the fact that you're actually just in support of higher unwanted birth rates. So instead we get this elaborate, if farcical, theory about how contraception actually causes unwanted pregnancy by turning otherwise asexual young people into characters from Penthouse Letters. It makes no sense, but it's all they have. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

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