A House Committee voted yesterday to renew $50 million in funding for abstinence-only sex education over the next 5 years. Committee Democrats attempted to include provisions that would have funded abstinence only programs that were 1) medically accurate, 2) included discussion of other means of birth control and contraception, and 3) had proven effectiveness. All such provisions were rejected.
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. According to a 1997 study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, “there does not currently exist any scientifically credible, published research” that show abstinence-only programs delay or reduce sexual activity. In the same year, a panel on HIV convened by the National Institutes of Health claimed “abstinence only programs cannot be justified in the face of effective programs and given the fact that we face an international emergency in the AIDS epidemic.”