Planned Parenthood Alaska Agrees to Debate Abstinence Education

State   |   Joel Davidson   |   Aug 12, 2011   |   12:35PM   |   Juneau, AK

Two of the more recognizable leaders from both sides of the often-heated debates on sexual health in Alaska have agreed to meet on radio for a third time — this time to debate whether sex education should focus on abstinence or include information on condom use and other so-called “safe sex” techniques.

Earlier this year, Jim Minnery and Clover Simon participated in two separate on-air debates that addressed the issues of abortion funding and access.

Minnery is president of the pro-family and pro-life advocacy group Alaska Family Council, while Simon is the vice president for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest — a branch of the national organization that provides the lion’s share of abortions across the country.

Radio personality Dave Stieren, host of the Dave Stieren Show on 750 KFQD in Anchorage, has presided over the first two debates and will also moderate the upcoming debate Aug. 12.

In April both Minnery and Simon agreed to meet regularly to debate issues related to abortion and sexual health.

In a recent email to supporters, Minnery stated that abstinence education programs are effective in “reducing sexual activity and out-of-wedlock childbearing rates among teens, as well as in providing an important foundation for personal responsibility and enduring marital commitment.”

He added: “The Alaska Family Council supports abstinence education as a critically important component of health classes and strongly encourages private and public administrators to provide opportunities for it to be taught as a stand alone curriculum separate from standard ‘safe sex’ based courses.”

Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, has long advocated on sex education that includes a strong emphasis on condom use and ways to have so called “safe sex.”

Earlier this year, the State of Alaska withdrew its support for an explicit contraception-based sex education program developed to instruct youth as young as 11 years old on how to use condoms and feel proud about making the choice to have “safer sex.”

The program was presented as an attempt to curb disproportionately high rates of sexual disease and teen pregnancy, which have long plagued Alaska youth.

Following an April 20 report by the Catholic Anchor, the State of Alaska withdrew its support of the program at the direction of Gov. Sean Parnell.

Parnell’s press secretary Sharon Leighow told the Catholic Anchor that “there were not enough answers about whether the program would be more harmful than helpful.”

She added that the governor supports abstinence-based sex education programs.

The upcoming radio debate between Minnery and Simon will likely touch on some of these issues. It takes place Friday, Aug. 12, at 4 p.m. on 750 AM.

At the conclusion of the debate, a podcast of the show will be available online at Note: Joel Davidson is the editor of the Catholic Anchor, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska. This article originally appeared there and is reprinted with permission.