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Bush to Increase Funds for Abstinence-Only Programs

Despite the lack of scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education programs, President Bush will seek a 33% increase in funding for such programs in the FY 2003 budget. The funding will total $135 million and represent an increase of $33 million over the last year. While HHS Secretary Thommy Thompson, a staunch reproductive rights opponent, admits that there is no evidence that abstinence-only programs work, he points out that they are very popular with the President and others on Capitol Hill.

Abstinence only education programs prohibit discussion of birth control, condoms, and other family planning devices as effective means for preventing sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancy. Opponents of such programs cite the lower rates of teen pregnancy and the decreased spread of some STDs in recent years as evidence that more comprehensive sex education programs, such as those promote the use of birth control and condoms for those who are sexually active, are effective and worthy of more resources and public education efforts. Many government officials agree. U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher released a comprehensive report in June 2001 on sexual health advocating a comprehensive approach to sex education that includes distribution of contraception in schools.

Sources:

AP 1/31/02; US Dept of Health and Human Services; Feminist Majority Foundation

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