How should the federal government respond when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1-in-4 teenage girls has contracted an STD? The number of cases of STDs has tripled in the past six years; now more than 15 million new cases are reported every year. President Bush recommended $204 million for abstinence education in his 2009 budget. Now it is up to Congress to make sure that proposal gets funded and the programs put in place to teach teenagers the facts about premature sexual initiation. Many don’t know that those who start having sex as young teens end up having more partners in their lifetime and thus are prey to two dozen different sexually transmitted diseases and other negative outcomes.
A study in the American Journal of Health Behavior indicates that students in abstinence programs are 50 percent less likely to engage in sex. In contrast, the longstanding comprehensive sex education program that prevails in most public schools was studied by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last year and found to have no impact on teens’ behavior.
But never mind the facts.
Even though they work, in 2002 abstinence programs received only $102 million in federal funding compared to at least $427 million allocated to comprehensive sex education and contraception programs that do not work. Why? Because nearly 200 liberal advocacy groups (Planned Parenthood, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, the Human Rights Campaign, and similar leftist organizations) lobbied against abstinence education.
This year, those leftist anti-abstinence campaigners are joined by a powerful group of nearly 80 legislators who sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee demanding that abstinence funding be eliminated.
Not surprisingly, all the groups and the legislators are strong abortion proponents. Why would they promote policies that are contrary to a teen’s best interests and well-being?
After more than a decade of working with liberal advocacy groups, here’s my assessment: