(Photo: The Christian Post)
WASHINGTON – A proponent of abstinence education has stated that the term "war on women" is being used to attack sexual risk avoidance education.
Valerie Huber, president and CEO of the National Abstinence Education Association, spoke at a Family Research Council event Wednesday on the issue titled, "Collateral damage in the 'war on women' debate: Sexual risk avoidance education caught in the crosshairs."
In an interview with The Christian Post, Huber explained why she and her nonpartisan organization felt an obligation to address the war on women phrase.
"This terminology is being used in a wide variety of ways and we specifically became interested when we saw it disingenuously attached to our programs," said Huber. "Rather than being a war on women [our programs] empower them, and that message that goes with it empowers them more than any other message that they can receive in their sex-ed classes."
According to the FRC announcement about the event, the phrase war on women is an "agenda-driven attempt to give victim status to women while ignoring their victimization by dangerous sexual messages."
"The use of the phrase is also intended to intimidate the messenger into silence - all the while communicating a message that actually puts young women at risk," continued the FRC statement.
During her presentation, which had viewers both in person at the FRC's office and online via webcast, Huber discussed how the war on women is being used against abstinence programs.
Huber drew a historical parallel to efforts by the federal government during World War I to promote abstinence until marriage among young men sent to Europe, who were experiencing a rise in sexually transmitted disease infections.
When noting support for abstinence until marriage for both men and women, Huber noted in her presentation that such efforts had broad support in the political spectrum, from conservatives to socialists.
Regarding whether or not a similar broad coalition could be created in the modern day for similar programs, Huber told CP that she felt it was unlikely.
"We would like nothing better than to see that kind of a coalition. This is such, though a high-pitched debate and the tenor is not at all parallel to what it should be. I'm not that hopeful, but we are working for that and will continue to do so," said Huber.
Huber also cited research that shows the harmful effects of the hook-up culture, especially on women, arguing that many groups use the war on women terminology to advocate for sexual freedom, which ultimately harms women far more than liberates them.
When looking at trends among youth, Huber observed that over the past few years the practice of abstinence has increased among teenage boys and girls. She explained to those gathered that she believes this is happening in spite of the messages youth are getting from sex education and the media.
"This is a phenomenon that we should not discount, because although they are given a very different message, they are choosing something different," said Huber to CP.
"I think it is very hopeful, actually, and its time adults get behind that and reinforce and encourage it rather than try to diminish and not reinforce those healthy behaviors."
According to an entry on the American Civil Liberties Union's Blog of Rights, the phrase war on women is meant to describe "the legislative and rhetorical attacks on women and women's rights taking place across the nation."
"It includes a wide-range of policy efforts designed to place restrictions on women's health care and erode protections for women and their families," stated the ACLU.
"Examples at the state and federal level have included restricting contraception; cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood; state-mandated, medically unnecessary ultrasounds; abortion taxes; abortion waiting periods; forcing women to tell their employers why they want birth control; and prohibiting insurance companies from including abortion coverage in their policies."
In addition to its politically conservative critics, international women's rights advocates have been known to be critical of the term, arguing that it is a "first world problem."
Manda Zand Ervin, Iranian political refugee and founder of the Alliance of Iranian Women, told The Washington Examiner that she was "ashamed" of the term's usage in American politics.
"I mean, when I sit here and watch television and a bunch of women are screaming and yelling in front of the Supreme Court for free birth control pills - $9 a month - I feel ashamed," said Ervin.