The Bush administration has a new message: Marijuana is the newest cause of teen pregnancy, joining the list of practically every other drug, notably alcohol. This is the simple message that the Office of National Drug Control Policy sent to Super Bowl viewers on Sunday. The ad showed a forty-something couple expecting the results from a pregnancy test and acting uncharacteristically distressed. As the subtitles read “they will be the youngest grandparents in town,” the camera drifts to their teenage daughter, looking scared, upset and, of course, piously repentant.
Although the intentions of the pricy advertisement are noteworthy and the execution is arguably powerful for its purpose, it nonetheless falls short. Most importantly, the premise of the advertisement is flawed. It uses indirect reasoning to prove its point: marijuana impairs one’s judgment, this impairment may induce sexual intercourse and this act of irresponsibility may cause pregnancy. Certainly, there is a logical flaw here, action A in this case does not necessarily cause result C – in fact, it rarely does. This indirect reasoning – the same logic used last year in similar ads connecting drug use to terrorism – reduces the strength of their argument because it is frequently fallible.
Yet, there is an even bigger issue here. The ad, knowingly or not, brings in other issues concerning abortion and sexual education. In President Bush’s conservative, generally religious administration, the idea of abortion is clearly immoral. But by denouncing abortion, the administration creates its own problem, and thus the ad attempts to find causation for an unnecessary problem. A woman’s right to choose should not be removed and were it not for threats from the Bush administration, many options could be available for families in similar scenarios.
Abortion, however, is not the only solution to the problem presented in the advertisement and most would agree that it is not the best either. Obviously, prevention will always be the key, and only through sexual education can a person prevent this situation. The current trend of “abstinence only education” denies reality and has proven to be ineffective. Once a person has made the personal decision to engage in sexual activities it is vital that they know how to be safe.
In this particular case, once judgment is impaired and intercourse is inevitable, the next best option must be protection. The administration’s advocacy of abstinence-only programs has, in a sense, created this situation. The issue is a non-issue and it only exists because of the government’s failure to consider all of the possible solutions.
Unfortunately, this ad tries to be about marijuana but should instead shift focus toward the Bush administration’s capability. Its logical flaws raise questions about the connection between drugs and pregnancy and the problem it presents is easily solvable.