En Tequila Es Verdad/progressive conservatism/post/2009/04/23/1509
April 23, 2009 3:09 PM - Woozle
I'm not exactly dismissing it; I'm saying it's hugely overrated, and that I suspect it has costs which have not yet become clear... but I did admit that it works much better than I would have expected it to.
And yes, if proper sex ed resulted in 5 out of 10 kids getting pregnant because 4 of them didn't even use any of the methods taught (and maybe one did but didn't use it properly... or experienced device failure of some kind), then that would be a 50% failure rate.
Ultimately, what matters is this: given [action] by policymakers, how completely is [goal] achieved? That's "effectiveness", and yes, that's how all contraceptive methods should be measured when we're talking about public policy.
Just from memory, the source you gave (Guttmacher) shows failure rates both for proper application of the technique and with "typical usage". (I'm not sure what the original URL was, but this page has data which looks like what I remember.) Those numbers are about actual usage of techniques, of course, and "effectiveness in real life" adds another link in the "signal chain" (abstinence can fail due to impulse; condoms can fail due to forgetting to bring any), as does "effectiveness of teaching"; without those links, "abstinence" is 100% effective -- but if it were 100% effective in practical usage and as a taught method of contraception, then kids coming out of ABE classes would never experience any unwanted pregnancies.
Still planning to get back to the main debate, but several crises hit at once and we're still digging out over here.
(And I tried to post this earlier, but Blogger suddenly isn't playing nicely with Firefox on this system. Now using Konqueror instead.)