Ann Widdecombe: 'The libertarian experiment has failed; abstinence is the way forward'

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The Independent Online

The Silver Ring Thing is coming to Britain, doubtless to a chorus of mockery from our libertarian media and commentators who resolutely refuse to see that the do-anything-you-like experiment of the past few decades has been a disastrous failure, and at tremendous human cost.

The Silver Ring Thing is coming to Britain, doubtless to a chorus of mockery from our libertarian media and commentators who resolutely refuse to see that the do-anything-you-like experiment of the past few decades has been a disastrous failure, and at tremendous human cost.

Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe. Behind that bald statistic is the reality of unplanned and ill-prepared motherhood, stolen youth, fatherless children, poverty and hopelessness.

In a hard-pressed health service, Britain devotes scarce resources and millions of pounds to the prevention and cure of HIV/Aids, to clinics specialising in venereal disease and to the killing of the unborn and unwanted. Even if there were no moral issues involved, the economic cost of sexual licence and the suffering that follows in its wake should give us pause for a great deal of thought.

We are told, farcically, that the answer is more sex education and greater availability of contraception. The facts scream otherwise. We have never had so much sex education and never so much contraception, and the result is a vast increase in teenage pregnancy.

There is a foolproof way to prevent an unwanted pregnancy: don't do the thing that produces babies. There is a foolproof way to avoid the spread of HIV/Aids: have sex only with one faithful partner. Yet the health and educational establishments refuse to treat abstinence as a serious option.

Uganda once had the highest rate of HIV/Aids in the world, but in the past decade the disease has dropped from striking 30 per cent of the population to 10 per cent. Experts attribute this dramatic success to a True Love Waits campaign in which schools and religious organisations have promoted abstinence before marriage.

In the US, the campaign is regarded as sufficiently successful in combating teenage pregnancy to have attracted generous funding from the government.

Libertarian methods have failed. Let those who have promoted them as infallible for so long now shut up and give the Silver Ring Thing a fair hearing among the young.

Ann Widdecombe is Conservative MP for Maidstone and The Weald and was a Home Office minister in the John Major government

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