Everybody’s Out to Get Them Young

We’re rightly wary when credit card companies target college kids. (I’m still smarting from the puncture that I received in the bull’s-eye.) So why is the New York Times treating it as some kind of a rights story that pharmaceutical companies are no longer targeting young women with discounted birth control?

The change is due to a provision in a federal law that ended a practice by which drug manufacturers provided prescription contraception to the health centers at deeply discounted rates. The centers then passed along the savings to students and others. …
Some college clinics have reported sudden drops in the numbers of contraceptives sold; students have reported switching to less expensive contraceptives or considering alternatives like the so-called morning-after pill; and some clinics, including one at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Me., have stopped stocking some prescription contraceptives, saying they are too expensive.

Attempting to argue the contrary, one affected student illustrates the error in thinking that easy access to contraceptives doesn’t encourage kids to have sex:

“The potential is that women will stop taking it, and whether or not you can pay for it, that doesn’t mean that you’ll stop having sex,” said Katie Ryan, a senior at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, who said that the monthly cost of her Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, a popular birth control pill, recently jumped to nearly $50 from $12.
Ms. Ryan, 22, said she had considered switching to another contraceptive to save money, but was unsure which one to pick. She has ended up paying the higher price, but said she was concerned about her budget.
“I do less because of this — less shopping, less going out to eat,” said Ms. Ryan, who has helped organize efforts to educate others on campus about the price jump. “For students, this is very, very expensive.”

What Katie inadvertently highlights, here, is that — although sex is just another activity for which one must make sacrifices and balance desires — kids have the impression that sex can’t be avoided. A dramatic increase in the price of antacids obviously won’t stop people from eating, but it may affect their dietary choices. Why should our society treat sex as if it is less amenable to self-control than eating?
I’d suggest to young Americans that they take a moment to consider who has an interest in encouraging a loose addiction to sex. The entertainment industry, the advertising industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and (yes) the abortion industry all stand to gain financially from a broad impression among the Ms. Ryans of the country that closing their legs is simply too difficult a feat of self mastery.

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Grendel The Troll-King
Grendel The Troll-King
16 years ago

So, you got any evidence that easy access to contraceptives leads to increased sexual activity? Can you cite a study? Can you provide any kind of back-up to this? Or is this just something you want to be true?
I realize that you need this to be True, or the whole would-be point of this post would collapse. And then what else might you be wrong about?
Face it: without evidence to support your statement, it’s nothing more than a baseless assumption.

Justin Katz
16 years ago

Actually, my point is an argument from reason trying to get at broad trends and tendencies. That sort of thing doesn’t lend itself to explicit studies. I realize it has served the lechers on the Left well, these past few decades, to call constantly for discrete evidence of every longstanding assumption that our culture has learned over generations (while not insisting on explicit studies before attempting huge cultural manipulations). The numbers can be twisted and spun, and broad attacks can be based on limited evidence. Mostly, it’s a great way to derail ideological opponents to bog them down in minutia and semantics. That said, I’m always interested in looking more deeply into evidence that I come across, when I’ve time. I assume that, had you evidence of your own, you’d have offered it, but if you’ve got something, I’d certainly like to investigate. In a general sort of way, one can observe increased sexual activity among recent generations, in tandem with increased access to contraception (even with there having been less of an increase in the activity in the United States, as compared, say, with England, which has a much more permissive approach to contraceptives). That’s certainly in keeping with the testimony that I’d offer as one who grew up in the “safe sex” era. It’s also in keeping with the reading and statistical investigations I’ve done over the past several years, involving teens in different countries. But I’m not making a grand academic claim, here. I’m merely offering a brief reaction to a brief article. I’ve never sold myself as anything more than a father of three and full-time carpenter with an opinion who longs for a day when I’ve more time to dig more deeply into matters that interest me. I’m sure I’ll have the opportunity to address… Read more »

Justin Katz
16 years ago

But just in case you’ve got more time to kill than I do, here are two studies for your consideration.
One: “This paper examines whether improved access to family planning services for under 16 is likely to help in achieving the aim of reducing underage conceptions. A simple model of rational choice is introduced which suggests that family planning increases rates of underage sexual activity and has an ambiguous impact on underage conception and abortion rates.”
Two (PDF): “Programs that increase access to
contraception are found to decrease teen pregnancies in the short run but increase teen
pregnancies in the long run. Thus we ¯nd that even well intended contraception policies
can then be self-defeating.”
Again, I know it suits your purpose to deny the validity of my own testimony as to what I experienced, when young, and as to the general thrust of a substantial amount of reading in this area over the past several years. You wanted studies, though, so here are two of many that you’d be able to find with even a limited investigation.

16 years ago

Actually, building young people’s self-esteem with a positive message that they don’t have to give it away (girls) or don’t have to prove their masculinity by taking it (boys) is probably the most effective means of reducing teen sex that we have – more effective than the extremes of either giving away condoms or abstinence education with a punitive attitude.
Carcieri’s message of blaming the females for the welfare problem in Rhode Island while failing to equally excoriate the males who comprise half the equation doesn’t help, either.

Justin Katz
16 years ago

That requires as a precondition that kids believe that having sex is giving something away. That’s precisely the assumption that I’d argue our society has worked so hard to undermine, in part by pushing the safe-sex message so hard.

16 years ago

“Carcieri’s message of blaming the females for the welfare problem in Rhode Island while failing to equally excoriate the males who comprise half the equation doesn’t help, either.”
Rhody, he did excoriate them but you’d have to be a radio-head to be aware of it. On Tuesday’s John Depetro Show/WPRO Morning News, a caller named Dolores asked him about that and he called the behavior of men who walk away from their child(ren) “disgraceful”.

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