Monday, July 27, 2009

Abstinence-Only Education Supporters Reference Inaccurate And Out Dated Facts

Guardian News UK - Teenage pregnancies and syphilis have risen sharply among a generation of American school girls who were urged to avoid sex before marriage under George Bush's evangelically-driven education policy, according to a new report by the US's major public health body.
In a report that will surprise few of Bush's critics on the issue, the Centers for Disease Control says years of falling rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease infections under previous administrations were reversed or stalled in the Bush years. According to the CDC, birth rates among teenagers aged 15 or older had been in decline since 1991 but are up sharply in more than half of American states since 2005. The study also revealed that the number of teenage females with syphilis has risen by nearly half after a significant decrease while a two-decade fall in the gonorrhea infection rate is being reversed. The number of Aids cases in adolescent boys has nearly doubled.

The CDC says that southern states, where there is often the greatest emphasis on abstinence and religion, tend to have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs.
Supporters of abstinence-based education said that the new report shows that there is too little not too much emphasis on discouraging sex before marriage.
Kristi Hamrick, a spokeswoman for American Values, which describes itself as a supporter of traditional marriage and "against liberal education and cultural forces", said the abstinence message is overwhelmed by a culture obsessed with sex.

"It is ridiculous to say that a program we nominally invest in has failed when it fails to overcome the most sexualized culture in world history. Education that emphasizes abstinence as the best option for teens makes up a minuscule part of overall sex education in the United States," she said.
The claim that abstinence-only education "makes up a minuscule part of overall sex education" is based on factually incorrect data promoted by abstinence-only education supporters. For example:
WAIT Training FAQs claims that the “Government spends $12 to promote contraceptives for every $1 spent on abstinence.”
What is missing from this “fact”? It does not give a date on what year they are talking about. Click the FAQ cited link and you come to the Heritage Foundation, which cites itself on the list of proof for abstinence education support. The main Heritage Foundation article cited regarding federal funding was written in 2004 and quotes statistics from 2002, just one year after Bush enacted the Abstinence Only mandate.
Both the Heritage Foundation and WAIT Training still have the information on its website as though the facts have remained stagnant over the past 9 years.
Given how much money Texas alone has received in federal grant money, and that only 3% of Texas ISDs cover abstinence-plus education, clearly any suggestion that abstinence-only education "makes up a minuscule part of overall sex education" is outdated and factually incorrect. But it is a convenient statistic in winning support regardless of how old it is.

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