Robert Austenfeld’s proposal in his Letter to the Editor in the April 15 edition (“Why not teach abstinence in schools?“), seems nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to project his own personal and religious beliefs into the debate on the use of abortion in Japan.

His use of the term “unborn child” and his assumption that a girl is “sure to regret losing her child” smacks of a conservative religious opinion with little relevance in a country without a tradition of Christianity.

In fact, abstinence-only programs don’t even work in countries with such a tradition. As it is difficult to give links in a printed medium, I invite you to type “teaching abstinence doesn’t work” into the search engine of your choice. You’ll find plenty of hits from Vice magazine, The Guardian, Washington Post, BBC, Newsweek and other reliable sources.

If the goal here is to reduce abortions, we need to be placing a lot more emphasis on informed consent and empowering young people to say “no” when they want to (on this point I agree with Austenfeld), but also giving them solid information on correct condom use when and if they decide they want to develop their relationship into a sexual one.

Simply preaching “abstinence only” and pretending that young people are going to simply stop having sex until marriage is unrealistic, naive and unhealthy.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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