Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Abstinence Until Marriage Is Still In

CNN is confirming that stupid abstinence-only education is included in the new health care reform bill.
The health care reform legislation that President Obama signed recently isn't only about insurance coverage -- there's also a renewal of $50 million per year for five years for abstinence-focused education.

Programs that receive this funding must "teach that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems," according to the Department of Health and Human Services. To qualify, they must also teach that sex before marriage is "likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects." These are part of the "A-H definition," requirements for programs to receive abstinence funding under Title V of the Social Security Act. $250 million for abstinence education not evidence-based, groups say

The bill itself does not mention "abstinence until marriage" or "abstinence-only" or "purity balls" or "chastity vows," and does not explicitly call for the perpetuation of ignorance among American schoolchildren. No, it does this indirectly, on page 601:
Section 510 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 710) is amended -- (1) in subsection (a), by striking ‘‘fiscal year 1998 and each subsequent fiscal year’’ and inserting ‘‘each of fiscal years 2010 through 2014’’; and (2) in subsection (d) -- (A) in the first sentence, by striking ‘‘1998 through 2003’’ and inserting ‘‘2010 through 2014’’; and (B) in the second sentence, by inserting ‘‘(except that such appropriation shall be made on the date of enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in the case of fiscal year 2010)’’ before the period.

Other mentions of the word "abstinence" in the health care bill talk about "abstinence and contraception." The Social Security Act that is mentioned carries the A-H criteria that are so offensive. It received funding at $50 million a year for the next five years.

Funding for abstinence-only education had been dropped from the President's 2010 budget.

From CNN:
"Just the fact that we continue to pour money into programs that have no evidence of effectiveness at all just doesn't seem to us to be good evidence-based health policy," said Heather Boonstra, senior public policy associate at the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit reproductive and sexual health research firm.

There have been numerous studies suggesting that it's not so easy for people to practice abstinence consistently. A congressionally mandated study in 2007 found that none of four abstinence programs showed a significant positive effect on sexual behavior among youth. A January 2009 study in Pediatrics found that religious teens who take virginity pledges are less likely to use condoms or birth control when they become sexually active, and just as likely to have sex before marriage as their peers who didn't take pledges.

Medical professional organizations also criticize abstinence education on ethical grounds, for leaving out potentially lifesaving information. Abstinence-only programs "are inherently coercive by withholding information needed to make informed choices," the American Public Health Association said in a statement.

This was apparently a compromise negotiated to get the bill passed. I would like to hear who is responsible for it -- it has to be a Democrat, since no Republican voted for the bill, so which one?
States have the option of tapping into the $50 million or not, but those who want it have to contribute also, Boonstra noted. For every $4 of federal money, states have to put up $3 of their own money, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

As of June 2009, 22 states, plus Washington D.C., had declined to apply for funds under the program, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

It's not exactly free money, it's more like a subsidy for propagandizing to young people.

This is interesting...
A study published in February in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that an abstinence-based program was more effective than other initiatives at keeping sixth- and seventh-graders from having sex within a two-year period.

Rather than asking students to delay intercourse until marriage, however, the program told students to wait until they were ready. It also did not portray sex in a negative light.

For these reasons, it is unclear whether that program would qualify for funding from the $50 million allocated in the health care bill, because it does not fit the A-H definition, said Bill Albert of the nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Boonstra agreed that it would likely not fit this category, as it differs from the programs that have received funding in the past. Huber said she thought it would qualify, although she has not seen the curriculum.

It's better to invest taxpayer dollars into what works, Albert said. Public opinion surveys reveal that Americans view abstinence and contraceptive education as complementary, not contradictory.

"There is great and very wide support among parents and among teens themselves that young people should be encouraged to delay sexual activity," Albert said. "But it is also clear that the American public wants young people to receive information about contraception."

So the one abstinence program that has been shown to work probably won't qualify for funding under this Social Security Act, great.

CNN handles the topic well here, nobody is "stupefied," there is no exaggerated polarization of opinions.

I think is is sad that the Democrats voted to continue the born-again "abstinence until marriage" faux-educational policies, states that accept the money for that will be doing their young people a disservice. Some of the other sex-education programs funded in the health-care bill are positive -- abstinence and contraception, innovation, those are good ideas. I'm sorry this junk is still in there, it is not a good sign. It was tricky getting that health-care bill passed, and I hate to think some Democrat forced the bill's authors to include it but apparently that's what happened. It's just the same old political game.


Post a Comment

<< Home