Recorded 1993-03-15 19:30 E.T.
Juan Williams and John Sununu debate with Dr. Rosetta Stith, principal of Paquin High School and Vice Chair of the Maryland Governorʼs Commission on Welfare Policy, and Dr. William “Reyn” Archer, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush.
Dr. Stith, born January 5th, 1945, passed way on May 18, 2017, from complications of dementia. Her school was closed in 2009.
Dr. William “Reyn” Archer III, M.D., went on to be forced to step down from his office in Texas in 2000, after a recording surfaced of him suggesting that a black staffer use her “brain to advance her career,” as “thatʼs what white people do.” He is currently Chief of Staff for Congressman Jeff Fortenberry
Juan Williams, John Sununu, Paquin High School, Maryland Governorʼs Commission on Welfare Policy, Norplant contraceptive, Orwellian social control, hormonal contraceptive implant, STDs, sexually-transmitted diseases, AIDS, National Review, Bill Buckley, William F. Buckley, ObGyn, CDC, judge, welfare, teen pregnancy, Crossfire, PrimeNews, New Hampshire, Maryland, ©1993 Cable News Network
V/O: Live, from Washington: “Crossfire”
On the left: Mike Kinsley
On the right: John Sununu
Tonight: The Right Prescription?
In the crossfire:
Rosetta Stith, principal of Paquin High School and Vice Chair of the Maryland Governorʼs Commision on Welfare Policy, and Dr. William Archer, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Juan Williams: Good evening and welcome to Crossfire. Iʼm Juan Williams sitting in for Michael Kinsley.
Itʼs been hailed as the foolproof contraceptive and itʼs been damned as a tool of Orwellian social control. The device is Norplant – six slender sticks
containing hormones that are surgically placed under the skin of a woman’s upper arm.
The device can remain in place preventing unwanted pregnancies for up to five years.
Norplantʼs effectiveness has made it a target for critics – some contend the device may encourage promiscuity. Others contend that the government may soon coerce poor women to have Norplant implants as a prerequisite for welfare.
Tonight, weʼll try to get to the heart of this explosive issue that combines sex, race, and class into one big social dilemma.
John Sununu: Dr. Stith, you run the school where some of the teenagers have received the surgical procedure and this implant.
Isnʼt there somewhat of a schizophrenic approach to all of this? – First we had folks running out saying we had to distribute condoms for free in schools to keep kids from being exposed to AIDS. Now, in response to the problem associated with teenage pregnancy, we ask them to have the Norplant implant.
Doesnʼt the Norplant implant, for example, make it easier for kids to get re-exposed to AIDS because they wonʼt use a condom?
Rosetta Stith: No, not if you have a school like mine – the answerʼs no. And the reason is, and the reason why itʼs at my school is because I have a school for young women who are pregnant and/or parents, and the reason why I chose it is because the product was already out there. When you have a subpopulation of pregnant girls and pregnant women, the product becomes accessible to them.
One of the things that we did was to score what were the problems with the product, if any, and then we designed a program for the young women at my school.
I donʼt agree with anything handed out or given to kids, just given to kids. At the school, when girls ask for Norplant, we want to make sure that they are a good health candidate; If they are contrary to the product, they donʼt get it.
Two things occur, and that is counseling to make sure they understand what the product is, and secondly, they understand no matter what contraception they use, it must be followed, and reinforced, by the use of a condom. We’re talking about a surgical procedure, that, for a period of time, up to five years, essentially sterilizes these young ladies. Juan used the word “Orwellian” in his introduction. It is Orwellian. To a point, but you’ve got to understand what these young women have been though. They have gone through a lot of things. They’ve seen a lot of things. For instance, the pill was out there. That hasn’t worked. These young women are looking at this particular product for those who choose it, level of maturity and lifestyle, as a way if they’ve already made a life, this gives them an opportunity to finish high school and go to college. They’re not using the condoms that were being distributed? My girs, no. Aren’t you then increasing the likelihood of casual sex without condoms and exposing their risk of sexual transmission? I misunderstood your question in terms of using condoms, in other words just handing out condoms, we didn’t do that, but girls understand that no matter whether it’s an oral, an implant, or a self-inserted product it must be reinforced by the use of a condom. I’d like to see someone place the same emphasis on the young men. We now have some young women who are embracing abstinence as a result of all these categories that have come out. Mr. Archer, let me read to you something from the National Review. Bill Buckley, the godfather of conservatism in this country, wrote: “Better a prophylactic than an abortion, and if we go for birth control, then the more efficient, the better.” What’s wrong with that? Well, I think that I would criticize that statement because the fact is is I don’t think that Bill Buckley… I read that very article and intended to write him a letter. And there was a response to that in the National Review, which criticized the fact that indeed, these girls who get Norplant, and, yes, we want, we are concerned about whether they get pregnant or not, but the biggest concern is that condoms, even though they reduce the risk of AIDS, they don’t reduce the risk of all the other STDs that they, these girls confront. These girls are at significant risk of things like chlamydia, which causes permanent sterility, and human pappiloma virus, which causes cervical cancer with rates as high as 40% and 60% of these diseases. So, what we’re concerned about, and I’m an obstetrician-gynecologist, I’ve worked with women, I trained in the inner-city of Memphis, Tennessee, and I understand the concern about keeping girls from getting pregnant, but you have to give more than a Norplant stick to them to keep them healthy and whole. We have to look at these girls in a holistic fashion. I just haven’t heard conservatives raising a voice of great concern about these young women’s social condition and health prior to Norplant. All of a sudden it’s the concern about Norplant. Why, all of a sudden, Norplant, when you have as a fact that about 40 to 60 percent of the pregnancies in this country are unintended and here’s a device that will eliminate unintended pregnancy? It may eliminate the unintended pregnancy, but for an adolescent who … unfortunately, you’re right. Proverty is not necessarily … is not being eradicated, even when women get Norplant, and that is the biggest concern. If we engender them in a lifestyle which is … which causes alienation, in other words multiple partners … sexuality with multiple partners may indeed increase the likelihood … Now, didn’t you just make a leap? You’re saying Norplant necessarily means they’re going to have multiple sexual partners. Isn’t that a leap? We know that adolescents that get involved in sex before they’re 18 are very likely … 20% will have more than 11 partners and 45% will have more than 4 partners. Adolescents are risk takers by nature, they’re likely to have multiple partners. Monogamy for adolescents means 3 months of a relationship, and then another relationship, which we call serial monogamy. And so, indeed, there was an article in the Washington… I don’t see any connection between Norplant … They’re having, they are doing… Dr. Stith, do you want to respond? Yes, they are having multiple partners without Norplant, and what we’re saying, and I can understand what you’re sying, but as far as we’re concerned, Norplant, and girls hear this, they made a big deal about the pill and now Norplant. You make such a big deal about it, but you do nothing to change their life. As an educator Ihave no problem with choice as long as it is an informed one, an explained one, and we monitor. But, this big to-do, but there’s more to their life, but you don’t do anything about and girls are hearing it. Dr. Stith, you made a point of the fact that you think that the use of Norplant has actually reduced the level of promiscuity in some of the ladies there with you? I didn’t say that, I did not say that. What it has done is, for those girls whose lifestyles, and older girls are choosing Norplant, not our younger girls. It’s the older girls who have maybe 2 and 3 kids who want to get a life now. Now, it’s not encouraging, and my girls will tell you that. And as a matter of fact, we do have now some young girls who are saying “I’m sick of it, I’m tired, no body is out there to help me, I’m just going to abstain.” But, in fact, the reality of something like Norplant is that it actually promotes promiscuity. It makes sex so, makes them feel that sex can be safe on a casual basis. Not in my school, it doesn’t. At my school, it does not. What is the fantastic factor that you have discovered? The fantastic factor that we have discovered is that, first of all, girls have to see to be. They are seeing how their lives are not going anywhere. They’ve watched their mothers, aunts, cousins and… What is Norplant … Why is Norplant essential for that? Why isn’t that kind of education the fundamental approach that ought to be taken, independent of whether Norplant is there? It is not exclusive, but what it does for some girls, because they don’t have adults there in their home; they have older children, and what it does for some girls is … who cannot keep remembering, their lives are so filled, it takes away the memory of a routine of taking a pill. That’s all. It doesn’t change anything about their knowing about the condom… Now, Dr. Archer, isn’t that right? That this helps young women who might not be so personally responsible to be sure that she’s not going to get pregnant, that she’ll be able to get through school, go on to college… Isn’t that a reality for especially poor young women who don’t always have equal access to healthcare? If that were really the case, then I would say that I would agree, but we also have the dilemma that Dr. Stith is working in a particular type of school. We certainly don’t want to… Just because she may have implemented in this, we don’t want to set policy for every school in America that we would provide Norplant in every single school in America, because it does send a signal to girls, and the boys, that we are expecting that they will be involved in sexual activity. The data is very clear on this. Whether you look at Family Planning Perspectives, Marsiglio and Mott, Deborah Dawson and Family Planning Perspectives, the National survey on Adolescent Males shows that if you provide and teach about contraception, you’ll increase the likelihood of the use of the contraception, but significantly you will increase the sexual activity rates and pregnancy rates based on every other data of school-based clinics have not gone down, so… I have two comments to make in terms of this: Data is one thing, I’m doing day-to-day stuff, and we’re not talking about every school— we’re talking about schools that have school-based clinics, that will do the medical follow-up… Not to have them in every place. We’re talking about having a good medical follow-up for those girls, and boys as well. We’ve gotta pause for a minute and when we do, we’ll come back and continue the discussion on Norplant, and we’ll ask whether the rush to implant Norplant in inner-city teenagers may be racially motivated. Welcome back to ‘Crossfire.’ Tonight, we’re discussing Norplant, the birth control device that may soon be used widely by teenage girls, particularly in our inner cities. Our guests are Dr. William Archer, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Rosetta Stith, Vice Chairman of the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Welfare Policy, and Principal of a high school in Baltimore that provides Norplant to some of its students. Dr. Stith, certainly the idea that Norplant may be used either as a requirement or with an incentive in our inner cities suggests to some that there might be a racial motivation, since most of the folks in our inner cities are minorities. Well, that’s true, but as the Vice Chair of the Governor’s … of Welfare Reform, the governor is not mandating anyone on what he is doing. I think it’s been misunderstood. What he is doing is providing an opportunity because it was cost-prohibitive. That’s one of the reasons it’s at my school. But that’s cost accounting morality. You can’t justify something like this just because the cost accountants say it’s a good thing to do? No, you can’t, but then when you look at the cost of raising a kid for the next 21 years, you can. And basically, if the appropriate information and counseling is provided, the young woman can make a choice. How is she goig to be incentivized to do this? Are you going to give her extra welfare? No, but there are going to be some other developmental .. Will you keep welfare from her if she doesn’t? No. No. But there are going to be some other incentives built in… Why is this related to the welfare program, then? This is something that has come up. This has come up and it was basically coincidental, but it is going to be provided. Why the focus in our inner cities? Well, for instance when you say inner cities, it just happens to be inner cities but it will be made available across the state of Maryland. So, you think anyone who suggests that there might be a racial motivation to try and push this into our inner cities is wrong? Well, from my standpoint, because at my school I have other races. I mean, there is not a black Norplant or white Norplant or Hispanic Norplant. There isn’t. When the product is out there, if you don’t want kids to get it, then don’t put it … But the school is predominantly minority, isn’t it? And that’s only by geographics. Now, Dr. Archer, you were in the Bush administration, Undersecretary of Population Control, but isn’t that the same administration that was trying to put limits on federal funding for abortions, gag rules on doctors to talk about abortion counseling? Here we have something that would limit that kind of crisis in a young woman’s life. It would prevent pregnancy, prevent the need for abortion, and yet you line up as an opponent of it? I think that the abortion issue is just a non-issue in this. I am as concerned about unplanned pregnancy as anybody else. I think, though that you have to look at a new paradigm. We’ve tried contraceptive programs for teenagers, now, because, the funny thing is we continue to support them and fund them, and yet we want to do school-based clinics in every school in America. They’ve been proven not to work, now, because, obviously they’re not working, we wouldn’t want to put Norplant in because it is an effective contraception, but the real issue here is that teenagers are not being fully served. They’re not being taught about the issues of virtue in their life. The issues of integrity, of … and what happens in these inner cities, and to all teenagers in America is there’s a growing sense of alienation. Girls feel used in the sexual relationship. Boys feel that they have used someone else in that sexual relationship, and what we know from data is that girls that get involved in sex lower their career goals, and boys that get involved in sex lower their grades. This was the study that was done in Indiana … Dr. Archer, Doctor, may Iask a question: You keep going back to data, and I’m doing day-to-day. Who, if not the schools, is going to do … What’s missing is morals and values and character. Everybody talks about the data, I’m talking about day-to-day, I’m talking about morality, I’m talking about reality. Who is going to do this? It’s obvious that data’s out there. We need to turn this stuff around and help the kids, and if you talk about adults as being home with parents, if you realize who you’re data, and I’m talking about day-to-day, because I’m talking to people who are adults in that house, you’re not dealing with adults. You’re dealing with older children, so during the decade for the nineties. When are we going to turn this stuff around and just realize what is not happening to the kids? Let’s go into the schools, Dr. Stith. You talk about morality, values, and character. When you make it easy for kids in school and you argue that it’s the older kids not the younger kids, but you know the way it happens in schools, it eventually moves its way down. How do you make it easier for them to understand the morality, the value, and the character when you make it easier for them to have casual sex? No, see, you keep talking about casual sex, and this is happening to kids where there is no structure, and there is no guidance. You keep talking about casual, but in where I am … Easy sex. Daily sex. Frequent sex. What phrase do you want me to use? If you talk about sex you can talk about adults. If you want … the issue, then let’s get to the issue of safe sex for everybody and then we wouldn’t have this conversation. You don’t think that Norplant, in combination with or without the use of condoms, is making kids think that there is no consequence at all to sex? No, because of the way in which our school system is beginning to help girls and boys to realize the consequence at the end of the road. Kids have to see to be – they’re not seeing anything in their neighborhood. All they’re seing right now are people with no clothes on singing, I mean, … Wait a second, John Sununu, are you telling me that the average American couple… In fact, I know the numbers: 90% of American couples use some form of contraceptive… why are you going to deprive a poor teenager… We’re talking about Norplant in schools. Right! And we’re talking about condoms. You’d be opposed to condoms, wouldn’t you, John? I’m opposed to distributing condoms in school because it sends a message to kids that promiscuity is okay. Alright, alright. So, anything… You don’t see a message there? I don’t see the message there … I see a reality there that shows lots of pregnant women ruining their lives at young ages. Explain to me the message of condoms plus Norplant. The message of condoms plus Norplant is there is a way for you to control this sexual activity so that it doesn’t limit your chances in life. Where’s the control? You talking about condoms doing something, what do you think they’re going to do? They may reduce AIDS for the kids in communities where the rate of AIDS is low. The CDC says that as long as the prevalence of disease is low, then condoms offer significant protection, but they don’t offer protection from human pappiloma virus, and chlamydia… …you don’t care about those diseases? You must not care about a woman having frequent pregnancies – that’s big health risk, isn’t it? And, ii you were the mother of a young girl on her second pregnancy at the age 15 or 16, you’re telling me you wouldn’t talk to her about Norplant? I would talk to her about a lot of different things. I would would talk to her about, I think the whole option of giving her hope about her life, telling her that she’s a wonderful person, that there’s a bigger thing out there… There’s a difference between the mother talking to her and someone in the school talking to her.. So you guys don’t want Dr. Stith talking to her. I don’t want a social worker replacing the parent. Hang on just a second, because, when we come back, we’re going to hear what someone in the school has to say to John Sununu about the realities of Norplant. Dr. Archer, when you’re a judge, let’s say, and you’re faced with a woman who’s been found guilty of child abuse or having children who have fetal alcohol syndrome… crack babies, wouldn’t you want to talk to that woman about Norplant? I think she needs more than Norplant. There is a lot going on in that woman’s life, and just to give her Norplant and send her back out to the streets would be a great travesty. She has a lot of difficulty in her life. She needs somebody who has an irrational belief that this is a wonderful person, and to work with her so that she can look for a different thing in life. Dr. Stith, do you want a judge telling your girl she has to have Norplant? No, I don’t, but do answer his question, realistically, you can’t do anything for her but to give her a start, and that start to help her is going to be appropriate counseling… No no no, I din’t say ‘impose,’ but… That’s what the judge would be doing. You aasked me if I were a judge would I not want to give this girl a Norplant. That would be imposing it on her. That would be coercing her on to it. You are going to have to give her a start. You’re going to have to give her a start. But it isn’t Norplant. And what we do … that’s what we don’t do. And condoms are not a start for that… Do you want teenagers able to get Norplant without parental consent? Well, that’s a law in the state of Maryland anyway, so I don’t have control over that. I told you, I don’t… Is it good policy? To a point. And I’ll give a scenario. We have… listen to me. We had kids who don’t have parents; whose parents are alcoholics, and I have kids in my school right now who don’t have adults to help … How about a child who comes from a two-parent family let’s give her the best possible break there is. Do you want her to be able to put Norplant in without parental consent? Let me say this: In my school, it is an option. The parents come in to do that. We don’t shut out anybody that’s involved in her life. You don’t have a system there where that young lady can get Norplant without her parents’ paremission? Yes she can, but .. Why should people in a state, let’s say New Hampshire, former governor, continue to pay for a woman who’s having multiple children and exhibiting signs of … …state government or local government or even the school teachers replacing the parents. So, everyone has to pay for those children and bear the consequences of someone who’s not raising their family correctly? There’s a long-term importance to a family structure, especially in those cases where where it might be working. But it doesn’t exist in many instances, and I keep hearing you talk about parents. These kids don’t have a parent. They have an older kid. I’m afraid we’ve gotta go. Thank you, Dr. Stith, Dr. Archer for joining us. We’ll be back in a second, and Juan and I will review what we’ve reviewed. For a transcript, send $5.00 to Journal Graphics Incorporated, 1535 Grant Street, Denver, Colorado, 80203, or call (303) 831-9000. Juan, first they pushed condoms in schools, now they’re pushing the Norplant in schools. No matter how you try and rationalize it, the kids are going to look at Norplant as a substitute for condoms, they’ll exposing themselves to sexually-transmitted disease. That’s a dumb idea. John, we have to teach family values in this country. I don’t have any doubt about it. But, when you get into the situation where children are running the streets wild and not having any kind of parental supervision, there is a need for the government to at some point say “here is an alternative, young person.” Juan, how can you justify eliminating pregnancies at the risk of expanding disease, sexually-transmitted disease in teenagers? I don’t hink it increases the risk; in fact, I think it decreases it, because it says to the young person “you can control your sexuality and your future…” It tells them casual sex is okay with almost anybody. I hope not, John. From the left, I’m Juan Williams. Goodnight from ‘Crossfire.’ And from the right, I’m John Sununu. Join us again tomorrow night for another edition of ‘Crossfire.’ ‘Prime News’ is next – here’s Bernie Shaw with a look at the headlines. Bernie? Thank you, John. Coming up, Secretary of Defense Aspin defends his base closing plan before the commission that will put together the final list. Across the eastern half of hte United States, digging out and heading back to work, after one of the worst storms in history. And Russian president Boris Yeltsin after the congress. Those stories and more, next on ‘Prime News.’