Despite recent studies showing the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only education, President Bush’s FY2006 budget proposal increases funding for abstinence-only education programs by $39 million, to $193 million. The increase in funds is more than 50 percent since 2004, according to the New York Times.
Public health advocates are concerned about the increases in abstinence-only spending. Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, stressed the benefits of a comprehensive approach to sex education, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “We should follow the science. It says a balanced approach is the best approach.”
“The government is spending enormous amounts of money domestically on abstinence programs that don’t work,” said Beth Jordan, MD, medical director for the Feminist Majority Foundation. Dr. Jordan cited Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) recent report on federally funded abstinence-only programs. The report found false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health in 80 percent of the most popular curricula used by more than two-thirds of federally funded abstinence-only programs, according to PPFA. In addition, an ongoing study funded by the Texas Department of Health has shown no strong evidence of program effect, as more students in the study engaged in sexual activity after receiving abstinence education than before.
“Worse yet, the administration is trying to export the abstinence/anti-condom rhetoric to HIV/AIDS ravaged Africa where infection is usually transmitted from husband to wife, a situation where abstinence is all but impossible,” said Dr. Jordan. “These policies, informed by a fundamentalist religious ideology rather than science, serve only to increase global suffering: they needlessly heighten the risk of unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and death.”
COLLEGE STUDENTS Register for the Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Collegiate Global Women’s and Human Rights Conference, which will connect the dots between the need to build a national constituency to increase international family planning and health funding aid, to ratify international treaties for human rights and the environment, to combat sweatshops, and to promote non-violence and peace.