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October 14, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – In 2018, cases of syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia were at an all-time high in America, according to a report released last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The three most common sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) rose to more than 115,000 cases of syphilis, more than 580,000 cases of gonorrhea, and more than 1.7 million cases of chlamydia, the CDC said in a press release. While all three are treatable by antibiotics, without treatment they can be spread to other people and lead to heightened risks of HIV, infertility and ectopic pregnancies.

The most alarming detail in the new report is a 40 percent spike in the number of infants born with syphilis to 1,300.

“There are tools available to prevent every case of congenital syphilis,” Gail Bolan of the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention said. “Testing is simple and can help women to protect their babies from syphilis – a preventable disease that can have irreversible consequences.”

The CDC report attributes the increases partly to drug use and decreased condom usage, as well as “poverty, stigma, and unstable housing” reducing “access to STD prevention and care,” as well as “cuts to STD programs at the state and local level.”

Social conservatives argue that something more fundamental is at work.

On Thursday, Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins interviewed Dr. Michelle Cretella of the American College of Pediatricians and FRC’s own David Closson, who attributed the numbers to “liv(ing) in such a sexually saturated culture” and to venturing “outside of God's design and the boundaries that he's given us,” respectively.

Cretella faulted the CDC's statement for emphasizing secondary prevention (treatment after the fact) over primary prevention (discouraging risky behavior). She noted that government and society have no hesitation about telling young people to abstain from smoking (often employing frightening and judgmental language and imagery in the process), but tends to treat sexual promiscuity differently.

Pro-lifers have long argued that so-called “comprehensive” sex education, particularly as operated by Planned Parenthood, actually encourages underage sexual activity, partly out of far-left ideology and partly in order to generate more demand for Planned Parenthood’s services.

A 2016 report from the Obama-era U.S. Office of Adolescent Health found that, across six different Planned Parenthood affiliate partners, more than 3,500 students, and 87 schools, a Planned Parenthood-backed sex-ed program left students “significantly more likely than controls to have ever been pregnant or to have caused a pregnancy.”