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April 24, 2014

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell Endangers Children’s Health for Political Posturing

Alaska is a land of extremes, both good and bad. We have the most coastline, the most islands, the best fishing, the most park land, and I can confidently say the most natural wild beauty of any state in the nation. On the flip side, we have the most earthquakes, the most infant botulism, the most alcoholism, the most mosquitoes, and the worst rate of chlamydia of any state. We’re second in the nation for gonorrhea.

~Chlamydia

The state has been first or second in reported rates of chlamydia every year since 2000, state public health officials said. Alaska’s rate was again highest in the country in 2010, with 6,026 reported cases. That’s 849 cases per 100,000 people, up 13 percent from 2009 and more than double the national rate for 2010, according to the state.

Also on the rise is gonorrhea, with 1,273 reported cases last year. The infection rate is up 23 percent from 2009, when Alaska was ninth. That year, public health officials began calling attention to a rapid increase in new cases in much of Alaska.

You can’t do much about earthquakes. You can’t do much about mosquitoes. (We tried the whole DDT thing, but that didn’t work out too well) But fortunately “Acts of God” (and yes, I include mosquitoes in that designation) do not extend to the realm of the sexually transmitted disease. That would be called an “Act of a Human” and there most definitely is something that can be done about that. Actually, two things come to mind right off the bat. One is abstinence, and the other is a condom. One works and one doesn’t.

Of course abstinence works in theory, but you have to actually follow through and do it. For teens, that means not just promising mom and dad, and not just believing that you’ll actually be able to do it. Sometimes situations happen and things don’t follow the plan.  Just ask abstinence spokesdaughter Bristol Palin.

Even when parents do their best, and say all the right things, stuff happens. Frankly, Bristol Palin could just as easily have gotten an STD as a baby.

Try telling a teenager, whose poor addled brain is swimming in a potent hormone soup so powerful it is rooted in perpetuation of the human species itself to “just say no.” Easier said than done. And scientific study after study shows just how much money we are willing to spend to learn the shocking news that teenagers don’t always listen to their parents or their preachers. Imagine that.  Abstinence may be the best way when it works, but in the vast majority of cases, it doesn’t. And it’s even been shown that those who vow to remain abstinent until marriage have additional risks than those who don’t take a pledge.

The new analysis of data [December, 2008] from a large federal survey found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a “virginity pledge,” but that the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.

“Taking a pledge doesn’t seem to make any difference at all in any sexual behavior,” said Janet E. Rosenbaum of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whose report appears in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics. “But it does seem to make a difference in condom use and other forms of birth control that is quite striking.” (emphasis mine)

Given that, the next best plan (and one that actually does seem to work, not only in preventing STDs but also unwanted pregnancies) is the condom.

So, if we know that Plan A (abstinence) doesn’t work, Plan B seems like a natural… Plan B. It ensures that if on that crazy wild off-chance our teens don’t take our advice, at least they won’t get gonorrhea, or herpes, or chlamydia or syphilis, or AIDS, or a host of other nasty things that result in pain and discomfort, loss of fertility, and in the worst case scenario – loss of life.

And they also won’t be forced to make a difficult choice about an unwanted pregnancy which may significantly affect their educational achievements, their domestic partnerships, their income, their reliance on government assistance, and their ability to be a prepared healthy functioning parent who is ready to bring a child into the world and give them a loving stable home, and the best chance for a good productive life. No teen should have to choose between a pregnancy and a baby they didn’t want, and are completely unprepared for, and having an abortion. Regardless of where you fall in the Pro-life v. Pro-choice debate, we can all agree on that. If there were no unwanted pregnancies, there would be no abortions. Win win.

So, it would seem natural to promote the use of condoms when our kids do decide to have sex. Few parents I know believe that their child deserves an unwanted pregnancy, infertility, or worse, as a punishment for anything.

Comprehensive sex education, including the use of condoms will keep our kids healthy, and un-pregnant. Abstinence will work occasionally, but will leave many kids unhealthy, and either with a child they are ill-suited to care for, a dependency on the state for aid, or the decision to have an abortion.

Fortunately for Alaska, help arrived in the form of a grant to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services in the amount of $600,000 over a five year period. The grant was to be used to help kids in five correctional or behavioral institutions in the state, targeting those in their early teen years – the exact population who is least prepared to make sound decisions and  healthy life choices, or if the situation arose, to responsibly care for another human being they brought into the world.  The grant targeted not only the problem, but aimed aid where it would be most needed and useful.

Terrific news! What could go wrong?

Enter Governor Sean Parnell.  His nickname (given him by Republican Congressman from Alaska Don Young) is Captain Zero, but we may need to start calling him Captain Chlamydia. Here’s why.

Even though the state applied for the grant to the program “Making Proud Choices,” apparently they didn’t realize (or the governor didn’t realize) that its point was to encourage the use of condoms – the plan that actually works.  So, what did the governor do? He took all six hundred thousand dollars the state asked for and received, and said “thanks but no thanks.” That’s right – he gave the money back. All $600,000.

So every kid who would have been helped by this program  – every kid who would have used a condom because of it;  every kid who would have insisted her partner use a condom because of it; every kid who now, through lack of education, will get an STD that could render them infertile; every girl who has an unwanted pregnancy that results in an unwanted baby, or in an abortion – ALL of these things can be hung squarely around the neck of this administration and the governor who runs it.

But fear not, next year the state is thinking about applying for another grant. This time the program they’ll ask for the money is one that emphasizes abstinence – you know… the plan that doesn’t work.

The differences are “subtle” [Alaska's Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner William] Streur said, but more in keeping with the administration’s philosophy. “This is an abstinence based administration,” Streur said.

That’s right, folks. Don’t be confused. This is an administration based on what doesn’t work. Remember that.

In any case, Streur doesn’t know if the program will be funded in the future. The grant period is over. For now, he said, “the money is gone.” Nor does he know if the new curriculum will match federal guidelines for such programs. Under Obama’s administration, the focus on sex education is a shift from abstinence-only to teen pregnancy prevention.

And let’s be equally clear that the Obama administration is focused on a shift from what doesn’t work, to what does work to prevent disease, unwanted pregnancy and abortion.

So, what do you call it when the chief executive of the state takes money in hand that could help prevent disease, unwanted pregnancy, infertility and abortion and flushes it down the toilet in favor of waiting for uncertain potential future money that will be dedicated to a program that promotes as its key strategy a plan that doesn’t work and may not even be eligible for federal funding? What do you call it when the governor’s plan of choice will result in more STDs, more unplanned pregnancies, and more abortions than the rejected plan?

Reckless endangerment of our children.

Pro-life hypocrisy.

The governor is willing to allow his state’s at-risk children to engage in unsafe sex, pass along disease, get pregnant, and have abortions without using his ability to help stop it.  And by taking money the state already had in its pocket and giving it back, it isn’t just that he’s not trying to stop it, he is actually complicit in encouraging those very things. But that’s OK. The governor obviously has his priorities. He’s earned some good conservative Christian cred with his conservative Christian buddies who want everyone to believe that abstinence education actually results in abstinence. The irony that their position ultimately results in more abortions is obviously lost on them. And Alaska’s children will pay the price.

Comments

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Comments
48 Responses to “Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell Endangers Children’s Health for Political Posturing”
  1. Kath the Scrappy says:

    Question to Governor Zero, I heard decades ago:

    What is the difference between Love and Herpes?

    Answer: Herpes is FOREVER!

    —-
    Good grief, how much more damage can this idiot do while he’s sabotaging your beautiful State?

  2. TX SMR says:

    Here’s something funny (or not) that speaks to me as summing up Alaska today:

    ADN has an article about the speaker for the Alaskan Bar Association gathering — guess who! John Yoo! Because every lawyer wants to be like him.

    ADN also has an article about an Olive Garden opening! Woohoo (never eaten there, never will voluntarily)!

    The ABA/Yoo article has 68 comments, some of them by the author of the article.

    The Olive Garden article has 76.

    Because Alaskans have priorities darn it! They are real Americans who support torture & stuffing their faces with bottomless pasta bowls! America F-Yeah!

    • cg says:

      …because these days, most “Alaskans” aren’t Alaskan.
      They want it just like it was back home, in Texas and California.

      Tonight’s biggest news story was four anchors and at least three interviews on a multidimensional bear story. It’s spring. There’s bears. It’s Alaska. Bear spotted in midtown. News truck races there. Bear chased through midtown. Proper trash handling. It’s Alaska. Bear chased to Bicentennial Park. Folks amazed and startled at bear running through yards. Shots of cop cars on bear stake-out.
      This is Alaska. Surprise. There are bears. This is news?

      Yeah, but what about that hit-and-run last week? Remember, the Eskimo guy walking west-bound and the car driving east-bound on a divided overpass? You know, the bit about finding the car? They know who, but the police aren’t “releasing” that information.
      Why? Isn’t that a story in itself, reporters? Is there a reason? Are they protecting an Anchorage/Wasilla politician/preacher/celebrity/corporate CEO?
      Reality-check: if the driver were an Eskimo, there would be absolutely no privacy, full disclosure; regardless of charges or not, identity would be relentlessly reported over and over by every news outlet in Alaska. There would be full disclosure of every traffic ticket, driving infraction or criminal history. There would be follow-up stories about alcohol consumption and crime in the Native community, whether the hit-and-run was alcohol-related or not. It would be turned inside-out, put under a public microscope and thoroughly flogged.

      KTVA – “An APD spokesperson said Tuesday afternoon that…detectives know who was behind the wheel and which vehicle it was, but say the suspect has not been arrested. Police refuse to disclose details because they’re still interviewing witnesses and don’t want to “taint” the witnesses’ memories.”

      • TX SMR says:

        I agree wholeheartedly. The difference between the Alaskan neighbors of my childhood and the neighbors that I had when we last lived there is night & day. Some of them don’t care to identify themselves as Alaskan. They just live there. And, sadly, vote there. Most of them either A) oil transplants (speaking as one now in TX), or B) military transplants.

        Big box churches + military facilities + oil industry = perfect critical-thinking-free trifecta.

        Both my husband & I had military fathers (deceased) and work in the oil industry. We have almost nothing in common with the majority of our peers. There is much that is just not discussed, ever.

  3. auni says:

    Loved the name Bible Spice!! Heard some Repubs speaking against the morning after pill. Calling it “killing your tiny baby”.

  4. Zyxomma says:

    When I was 16, I started living on my own. I entered the world of adults, and made adult decisions, including birth control. My hormones raged like those of anyone else, and having a baby was out of the question. I had friends who weren’t nearly as informed, or mature. They got pregnant, contracted diseases, had babies while still children themselves, or suffered through abortions. I wouldn’t have traded places for anything in the world.

    Alaska’s governor is assuring that many young people will have their futures ruined before they’ve begun. How is that a Christian thing to do?

  5. Millie says:

    How did this guy ever get elected? I know I didn’t vote for him. Another ‘supposed’ christian in government not helping/teaching/assisting young Alaskans. He makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.

    Alaskans really need to do more research of candidates before going to the poles. In our next election cycle I so hope many of these egotistical Repubs lose their seats…especially on the House side of our Legislature.

  6. Skagway Kid says:

    The cabal of flat earth people are behind the governor’s faulty thinking. One can easily see the Palin contamination working here. I have no idea why Alaska’s vote against their own interests. Now the governor wants to give back bucks to the oil companies. The problem with the current political stance of the republicans, is the earth has turned. It’s the time of Obama: I just had to say that to piss Palin off.

  7. AKPetMom says:

    One day this country will evolve beyond christian politics. It will be too late for many that are impacted by the repressionist philosophy of the christian base. But certainly, at some point, religion will become historically insignificant and people won’t be able to govern or be elected because of it. Until then, well, kids, adults, everyone is at risk. We’ll have pregnant teens, diseased ridden teens and adults and Darwin may be hard at work here in this particular arena. There are too many people on the planet as it is and it truly is getting to the point whereby only the strongest will survive and thrive. I hate it that parents don’t prepare their children for their sexual maturity, but if they get pregnant, or sick, or die from disease, well, that’s nature at work. It doesn’t only work for other members of the animal kingdom, it applies to humans too.

  8. Writing from Alaska says:

    Idiocy abounds – so is he willing to take responsibility to convince all teenagers in the state to even agree that abstinence is the plan they want- ? Basically he has mistaken his idea of what is good for workable public policy. idiot, again.

  9. FISHEYE says:

    Our governor is a MORON! But at least he ‘s good at it.

    • bubbles says:

      LOL. snap!!

    • AK Raven says:

      Yes he is, Just like SP #1. Is there any way someone can put an ad for “Blind Allegiance” without the pic of $arah. It makes me sick to look at her. It would be easier to come to the site and read the stuff without her pic in my peripheral vision. PLEASE

  10. mo says:

    Yeah, well wadda we do about it? He’ll be re-elected forever because Anchorage Republicans and Prevo’s Baptist Temple run this state.

  11. Thomas says:

    @Beth: People from both sides engage in semantic haggling (pro-lifers would note that the fetus doesn’t have a “choice” in the matter, for instance), and this lame, perjorative “pro-abortion” and “anti-choice” stuff distracts from the real issue at hand: that a woman, and not some right wing yahoo, should have the right to make her reproductive decisions.

    • beth says:

      When it’s framed as “pro-life v. pro-choice”, though, it implies all those who advocate for a woman’s right to make decisions about her body and her reproductive health, are “anti-life.” Not true.

      Similarly, when it’s framed as “pro-life v. pro-abortion”, it implies all those who advocate for a woman’s right to make decisions about her body and her reproductive health, think abortions are the neatest thing since sliced bread and no big deal. Also not true.

      By ‘allowing’ the anti-choice faction to place the pejorative [by corollary implication] “anti-life” and/or “pro-abortion” labels on those who do not agree with their relentless Uteri Patrols, it gives them permission to totally ignore the *Real* issue, which is, as you said, Thomas: “that a woman, and not some right wing yahoo, should have the right to make her reproductive decisions.” We should never encourage their hijacking of the *Real issue* by condescending to the terms *they* have decided to use. Just my opinion…but one I’ll keep defending until the terminology used is an accurate platform from which the issue is debated. beth.

  12. beth says:

    Powerful, powerful piece, AKM; thank you!

    Another thing the ‘Pledge Reliants’ seem to forget, is that even if the kids have taken the pledge and do not have sexual intercourse (specifically), that does not mean they aren’t engaging in risky sexual behaviour. Transmission of STDs is not exclusively limited to genital-to-genital contact…if you get my drift. I can’t remember the exact stats, but the incidence(s) of STD transmission through genital-to-other-orifice contact amongst the ‘Conscientious Pledgers’, is staggering.

    Ahh, us silly humans…all pre-programmed with urges, raging hormones, and all. beth.

    PS – I react as a booger when the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are used as if they are the yin and yang of the debate. They aren’t. (As in: “Regardless of where you fall in the Pro-life v. Pro-choice debate, we can all agree on that.”) Since virtually no one is “anti-life” or “pro-abortion”, and since there has to be an equivalency for an accurate, meaningful comparison, the only applicable terms are: anti-choice and pro-choice. Leastwise, that’s how I see it…no matter how the anti-choicers want to frame the debate by ‘assigning’ (unspoken but logically corollary) highly-prejorative terms to the opposition. b.

    • AKMuckraker says:

      Good point about other risky behaviors. And in this case, I used the designation “pro-life” hoping that the piece would have bipartisan appeal. I am reluctant to use terms, no matter how much I may agree with the sentiment, that make the people the term applies to plug their ears. Hence, I try to never use the word “teabaggers” no matter how I may be tempted. :)

  13. scout says:

    “Capt. Chlamydia” is not leading with his Governor of Alaska hat on: he’s governating with his soldier of God helmet on. Pray the endocrine system away, Parnell? How’s that working out for your righteous predecessor’s family, Shawn? Leave your dogma at the door and do the right thing for our young people, STD denying Shawn.

    Do the math:
    A condom costs $_?
    Teen pregnancy costs $____________?
    AIDS costs $_________?

    Education ~ priceless

  14. lisa says:

    Please submit this to ADN for a compass piece!!! I so agree this would hit some more nerves in our state. I am absolutely fed up with Cat. Zero, his minions and his ideology. He is as deluded as Bible Spice and her spawn Bristol.

  15. renee99503 says:

    I would really like to see this submitted as a Compass piece. I’m sure you’d have to take out some things suchas Captain Chlamydia, although I love it, but this is such an important subject that will likely get glossed over by ADN and the public needs to know. Great article–one of my favorites. I was so living upon hearing of Parnells action yesterday that I called his office and the Department of Health and Human Services and told both offices in no uncertain terms what I thought of it. In particular the health department!!! I was very specific that the key word in their work is supposed to be protecting the “health” of the citizens of Alaska and religion should have no place in our safety.

  16. 1smartcanerican says:

    For all the wonderful Alaskans that I have met on this site and others, I share your frustration with the current administration and its christianist leaders. These people are not true Christians. They embrace a patriarchal society where the men have all the power. Unfortunately, this leads to abuse of power and can lead to family dysfunction where the wife and girl children are put down and used as objects while the male members can do what they will. It becomes self-perpetuating as there is a lot of mind control going on in these homes.

    I hope the good, thinking Alaskans face down these fake xtians in the next election and get some more honest people elected. You’ve been behind the xtian mafia for far too long!

  17. John says:

    Parnell was right. We don’t need no stinking feds to tell us how to do things. We do things the Alaska way. We know what works here. Just ask Bristol. Or for that matter, ask Sarah and Todd. Has anyone compared Track’s birth date to Sarah’s wedding date?

    • Ratfish says:

      Yes.

      In her early myth building Palin frequently told a story about her and Todd “eloping” to save her parents the expense of a wedding. Of course she could have had a small, inexpensive with a potluck dinner or whatever.

      Then, on August 29, 2008, when McCain trotted her out in Dayton, he announced it was his 72nd birthday. (Without thinking?) Palin announced it was her 20th anniversary. The rest is history.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/02/us/politics/02palin.html?hp

      “The Palins eloped on Aug. 29, 1988, and their first son, Track, was born eight months later, a fact that Maria Comella of the McCain campaign, declined to elaborate on. “They were high school sweethearts who got married and ended up having five beautiful children together,” Ms. Comella said.”

  18. Alaska Pi says:

    AKM-
    Captain Chlamydia has a nice ring to it but am beginning to think of him as Captain Torpedo myself.
    He torpedos just about every no-brainer-this-would-help-a-lot idea, program, or grant which comes his way.
    Quietly, unerringly, foolishly…
    What a PIA.

  19. Ratfish says:

    What’s wrong with you people? Haven’t you heard?

    Parnell has decided to hire Bristol Palin fresh off her Candies gig. After all, who could make a better role model? Or maybe they could have Sarah Palin as the abstinence queen, since she was pregnant when she got married? Or maybe her mother, who was also, too. Or maybe all 3.

    You betcha!

  20. Juneaudream says:

    The ..educated progress..Will arrive..in time. Alaska..will NOT..remain..in the strong and corrosive eddy, of crippled political types forever. Two groups..must rise..the strength of Elders in the cultural mix..and the college students..who are gritting their teeth and working two side jobs..as they wait to return to their communitys..armed with degrees..will bring..strong medicine..for an Alaska..who rests..waits..for the winds of fresh air, well-lighted minds and knowledges from around the world..that reenergize..the wisedom..that was before..and the wisedom..that builds..and grows..and waits. Goodness and Beauty..before her..the Mother Country..WILL rise..and lead..again.

  21. TX SMR says:

    When people ask where I’m from (everywhere lately, but born & raised in Alaska) and I tell them Alaska, they have zillions of questions. Always have, even before Bible Spice time. Over & over again I’ve said that I miss Alaska, the state. I miss kayaking in Halibut Cove. I miss our annual blueberry-picking long-weekend trip. Hiking. Snowboarding & skiing. The view from the deck off of our bedroom. The inlet that I used to fly across to go to work in the field. My family.

    But I do not miss what Alaska has become politically, the politics of selfishness & hate that prevails there. I was never able to surround myself with supportive free-thinkers like AKM has been able to do, and felt nearly as completely alienated as I do here in TX.

    There was not a single good reason for voters to have chosen Capt. Zero. He had nothing going for him. And yet getting out the blue vote in Alaska? Exercise in futility. Alaskans, as with much of the south, are masters of voting against their own best interests.

    So depressing.

    I hope that a worthier state will get the $600k and use it wisely to protect their children.

    I don’t recall reading in this piece that Alaska also has stratospheric rates of rape & child abuse & incest. STDs happen to small children too in those cases. It’s not only teens with raging hormones that are affected by them.

    • Dagian says:

      “Bible Spice”, gets me every time!

      “I don’t recall reading in this piece that Alaska also has stratospheric rates of rape & child abuse & incest. STDs happen to small children too in those cases. It’s not only teens with raging hormones that are affected by them.”

      Too true. Does this mean that Alaska does have stratospheric rates of rape, child abuse and incest? I knew that the rape rate is too high (as in, any single rape is one too many), but I didn’t know the other two were just as awful or even worse.

      • Alaska Pi says:

        http://www.ncadv.org/files/Alaska.pdf
        This is the shame most Alaskans will not own openly yet.
        The Parnell administration makes much of ‘Choose Respect’ -which does have a place but , tell me, how and what does a child choose when an adult attacks them?

        • Dagian says:

          “The Parnell administration makes much of ‘Choose Respect’ -which does have a place but, tell me, how and what does a child choose when an adult attacks them?”

          Too true!

        • TX SMR says:

          I’d love to know how they choose who gets respect. Doesn’t appear to be the citizens of Alaska. Or the federal government.

          As for the rape, incest & child abuse statistics in Alaska — appalling. Indefensible.

          Good man Walt Monegan was working toward addressing those issues when he ended up in BSpice’s black books for not firing the brother in law and subsequently got the boot. I hope that in his new capacity he can effect positive change in Alaska. Positive change is obviously not going to come to Alaska via the Gov’s office…

          • fishingmamma says:

            I recently heard Walt Monegan speak. He is a humble and powerful man, and we were lucky to have him serve our community for so long. I know that in his position now he will do great things. I have a great deal of respect for him.

      • Mag the Mick says:

        I worked in child protection in Alaska for 20 years. My first case, back in 1981, was a six-year-old girl with gonnorhea. That was just my first case.

    • AKMuckraker says:

      Yes, you are absolutely right regarding rape, and sexual abuse of children. The only reason I focused on teenagers was that they were the group targeted by this particular grant. The big picture is even worse. This would have been only part of it, and apparently even that was too much.

      All the best,
      AKM

  22. Dagian says:

    What a fool. He’s basically relying upon LUCK and a PROMISE made by teenagers. Yeah. That’s wise.

    For what it is worth, we don’t know that Bristol didn’t get an STD AND a baby. But given how little self-control or self-discipline she exhibits in general (along with her mother), I imagine we would know about an STD…

    I was listening to the radio on my way to work and someone brought up Sarah Palin criticizing the POTUS and LAUGHING AT HER. No, literally! It was on WTOP and the commentator and the morning guy were both chuckling at her tweet or facebook comment. The younger guy read it aloud. He guffawed, the usual morning guy chuckled.

  23. beaglemom says:

    Your governor is like our US representative – all in favor of the “unborn” but not so much in favor of the “born.” That seems to be a Republican attribute, one of the litmus tests they must pass to stand for office. I couldn’t believe the nonsense about how Mr. Camp supported the “unborn” all the while opposing health care for children, programs like WIC, education at any level, etc. Get them born and be sure to have wars to keep them occupied once they’re 18!

  24. regina says:

    What can I say?

    Speechless…

    We seem to get speechless very often these days.

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