According to senior FRC fellow Pat Fagan, the Supreme Court’s “first assault on marriage” was a 1972 case that overturned a state law banning unmarried people from purchasing birth control. Fagan claims that court decision effectively sanctioned premarital sex, “brushing aside thousands and thousands of years of wisdom, tradition, [and] culture.” Appearing on a radio show with Tony Perkins, the head of the organization, Fagan asserted that “society never gave young people that right,” and instead has an obligation to stop, punish, and shame that type of sexual behavior:
FAGAN: The court decided that single people have the right to contraceptives. What’s that got to do with marriage? Everything, because what the Supreme Court essentially said is single people have the right to engage in sexual intercourse. Well, societies have always forbidden that, there were laws against it. [...]
It’s not the contraception, everybody thinks it’s about contraception, but what this court case said was young people have the right to engage in sex outside of marriage. Society never gave young people that right, functioning societies don’t do that, they stop it, they punish it, they corral people, they shame people, they do whatever. The institution for the expression of sexuality is marriage and all societies always shepherded young people there, what the Supreme Court said was forget that shepherding, you can’t block that, that’s not to be done.
In fact, a full 80 percent of unmarried evangelical Christians report that they are having sex. Despite the emphasis on abstinence within the evangelical community — a misguided approach to sexuality that typically shames young adults about their bodies, ignores the existence of the LGBT community, and fails to equip adolescents with the resources they need to effectively manage their sexual health — it’s clear that premarital sex is the norm, not something that threatens the very fabric of modern society.
And ignoring the reality that teens are having sex has had serious consequences across the country. The states that push ineffective abstinence-only health classes have higher rates of teen pregnancy, higher rates of STDs, and higher concentrations of HIV infections. Even the evangelical community itself has started to realize that denying teens sexual health resources isn’t working, and has begun to move in the direction of supporting contraception and sex education.
The United States’ teen birth rate has actually recently plunged to a record low — but that wouldn’t be the case if Fagan had his way and unmarried Americans were denied access to birth control. According to the Guttmacher Institute, that decline in unintended teen pregnancies is “almost exclusively” the result of more young people using contraception.