Monday, June 30, 2008

Quick and Quippy: Abstinence vs. Comprehensive Sex Ed

While many Americans would like to believe that their children abstaining from sex, the reality is that a lot of teenagers aren’t. According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly half (46%) of all 15-19-year-olds in the United States have had sex at least once. Maybe in a utopian society pre-martial sex (at its worst, unsafe sex) wouldn’t be an issue. But in the real world, with STIs flying around left and right and teen pregnancy rates as high as they are, adults deluding themselves into thinking that kids are abstinent is just plain dumb. It’s been shown that providing comprehensive information about sex is the smartest strategy in preventing STIs and unintended pregnancies. The following articles support the argument that family planning services and comprehensive sexuality education are smarter policies than abstinence only curriculums.

States Say No to Abstinence Only Funding – For those who aren’t aware, the Title V Abstinence only program is a complete failure. According to RH Reality Check, 22 states including the District of Columbia have opted out of abstinence only programs and its funding. Many states have expressed frustration with the ineffectiveness of abstinence only and said that they need practical, honest programs about sex. The decline of states making use of Title V funds means that the ludicrous and inaccurate abstinence-only programs are on their way out of the door! This means that the best way of getting comprehensive education programs in the schools is by getting rid of Title V funding. Here’s to chucking ab-only programs out the window!

Comprehensive Funding Bill Passes in the Senate -- So are there people on the Hill that realize that abstinence only is failing horribly? Apparently so, because the Senate passed a spending bill that will fund the Health and Human Services (HHS), Labor, and Education departments for the 2009 fiscal year. The spending bill reduces funding for community-based abstinence only education programs by 25 percent and keeps the Title X funding for family planning programs at $300 million (which is still appallingly low). The spending bill also increases funding for community health clinics, and provides funding for breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for low-income women.

In light of the decrease of abstinence only funding—can Title X family planning programs look forward to an increase in funds in 2010 if states continue to opt out of receiving abstinence only funds?

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