NYT Advocates 'So-called Pullout Method' of Birth Control

It is estimated that 20 percent of Americans have a sexually transmitted disease, with teenaged girls showing a higher rate of 26 percent.

And the New York Times is advocating the "so-called pullout method" of birth control?

Such seems to be the case in Monday's "Withdrawal Method Finds Ally."

Readers are warned to proceed with caution as the following seems to defy logic in the year 2009:

Which birth-control method is more effective: condoms or withdrawal?

For sex educators and others, the answer is glaringly obvious. Withdrawal before ejaculation, the so-called pullout method, is a last resort, they say - something to be used only if there are no other options. The effectiveness of condoms, on the other hand, is well known.

So reproductive experts were taken aback by a paper in the June issue of Contraception magazine. Based on an analysis of studies, the paper pronounced withdrawal "almost as effective as the male condom - at least when it comes to pregnancy prevention."

"If the male partner withdraws before ejaculation every time a couple has vaginal intercourse, about 4 percent of couples will become pregnant over the course of a year," the authors write.

For condoms, used optimally, the rate is about 2 percent. But more significant, the authors say, are the rates for "typical use," because people can't be expected to use any contraception method perfectly every time. Typical use of withdrawal leads to pregnancy 18 percent of the time, they write; for typical use of condoms 17 percent of the time.

So, both have a failure rate of about one in five -- and that's good?

More importantly, with the astounding STD rates in this country, especially amongst teenagers, do we REALLY want to be telling folks that coitus interruptus is basically just as effective as condoms?

The Times broached this subject, albeit in only one paragraph:

Some educators and physicians said they worried that putting out a message that withdrawal is effective would just give teenagers encouragement to have unprotected sex. And many underscored what the authors themselves point out: that unlike condoms, withdrawal does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, a strong reason to encourage condoms.

The answer:

But [the paper's lead author, Rachel K. Jones, a senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute] said the intention was not to advocate withdrawal, but to advocate talking about it. 

Hmmm. So, isn't talking about it advocating it, or at least won't teenagers see it that way?

Isn't this especially important given how this same Institute found:

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) still afflict the population in general, and they are rather common amongst sexually active teenagers. Indeed, the Guttmacher Institute reports that 48 percent of new cases of STDs each year occur in those aged 15-24. This age group represents only one fourth of the population, yet almost half of the new cases of STDs occur therein. It should therefore not come as a surprise that focus is being put on educating teenagers so that they will have protected sex and hopefully avoid contributing to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. 

Of course, abstinence wasn't discussed in this piece.

Color me unsurprised.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.