Fonda Needs to Abstain from Absurd Assertions

Article excerpt

On June 24, Jane Fonda made a truly remarkable speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

She asserted that:

* Conservative Christians leaders want minorities "eliminated."

* There is no evidence that abstinence messages work.

* She speaks for the majority of Americans on these issues. Wow! Let's take these one at a time.

Miss Fonda says conservative Christians leaders don't care about children that are not white, middle-class Christians. As far as they are concerned, others can be eliminated. Let's see now, how exactly do these Christian leaders want to eliminate minorities? Concentration camps? Gas chambers? Mass executions?

The only thing that conservative Christians want eliminated is the tragedy of abortion. Doing so would save millions of children's lives, not eliminate them.

What Miss Fonda's statement really reflects is an inability by some to tolerate honest differences of opinion. Rather than simply saying "I disagree with you and here's why," too many people today view those who disagree with them as mean-spirited extremists - even evil. In their minds, if you don't hold opinions like theirs, you must hate children or minorities. You might even want them dead.

But for a civil society to exist - not to mention a democracy - tolerance for a diversity of opinions is a necessity, not an option. When Miss Fonda goes on, as she did, to accuse conservative Christian leaders of mounting sophisticated campaigns, mobilizing the grass roots in support of their legislative priorities at both the state and federal levels, what she is really accusing them of doing is practicing democracy, not hate.

Only in totalitarian states are the rights to peaceful assembly, free speech and the vote restricted to certain groups.

Second, in regard to Miss Fonda's assertion that no evidence exists that abstinence messages work, I suggest she pick up a copy of the Sept. 10, 1997, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. It includes a report on the findings of the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health, the largest survey of youth ever conducted.

According to this study, parents who communicate a clear abstinence message along with disapproval of the use of contraceptives serve as one of the best protective factors against teens becoming sexually active. Even among sexually active teens, those who had parents who disapproved of contraceptives were less likely to become pregnant than sexually active teens whose parents endorsed the use of contraceptives.

Finally, Miss Fonda repeatedly asserted that she speaks for the majority of Americans when she says that teens should have unrestricted and free access to school-based health clinics that distribute contraceptives and provide abortion counseling. …