Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ab-Only: Where Do We Go From Here?

Last week, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, conducted the first-ever hearing on the effectiveness of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. It took 12 years of conservative congressional leadership and $1.5 billion before we finally achieved some public accountability for these failed programs.

Advocates for Youth had a concise summary of the hearing.

Ab-Only: Where Do We Go From Here?: The hearing produced a litany of rejection of abstinence-only programs from mainstream, science-based public health organizations. The American Academy of Pediatrics testified that the abstinence-only approach was not only ineffective, but could cause real harm to young people. The Institute of Medicine stated that continued support for these programs does not "comport with the evidence" and no reason existed to hamstring federal interventions by placing them in the abstinence-only straight-jacket. The American Public Health Association also rejected abstinence-only programs and cited the significance of 17 states rejecting abstinence-only dollars in the face of the enormous need for public health resources at the state level....

"Fortunately, Dr. John Santelli from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health (and a former high-ranking CDC official in the field of teen pregnancy prevention) summed it all up by explaining that abstinence has a legitimate role within comprehensive sex education which also includes birth control and condoms. However, abstinence-only programs that exclude information about birth control and condoms, have no place at the center of federal sex education policy.
I'm glad that NY is one of the seventeen states that have rejected federal funds for abstinence-only education. But, I hate having my tax money go to support it in other states.

So where do we go from here?
The time has come for the Democrats to correct course and stop government funding of ineffective abstinence-only programs. With the teen birth rate on the rise, with one in four teen girls contracting an STD, with 55 young people getting HIV every single day, how can congressional leaders continue to ignore the public health consensus about science-based programs?"

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