Health care reform includes $250 million in funding for abstinence-only education


That’s right. The health care reform legislation signed by President Obama last week includes a renewal of $50 million to go towards abstinence-only education every year for the next five years. Via CNN:

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.

Sex education is receiving funding as well ($75 million per year), meaning programs that offer both abstinence and contraception information, which the bill calls “personal responsibility education.” (Because I guess putting the word “sex” in bill language about a program that educates students about just that — sex — is just too controversial.) Additionally, $25 million is also being set aside for new, “untested programs,” which I find hilarious considering the “tested” programs like abstinence-only programs have been proven over and over (and over) again to be completely ineffective and dangerous. So why, for the love of god, why do they continue to be funded?
While CNN addressed the “abstinence-only” program from a couple of months ago that had some success (which was actually abstinence-focused and didn’t contain the same shaming and inaccuracies about contraception that abstinence-only programs have), it wouldn’t even meet the A-H definition requirements that the bill is calling for anyway (just as it didn’t apply for Bush’s ab-only funding).
And just because sex education gets more cookies, that doesn’t make it okay. It’s time to cut the bullshit and acknowledge that teens’ health and lives shouldn’t be sacrificed for the sake of bipartisanship.

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4 Comments

  1. onemorefeminist
    Posted April 2, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    I think one of the problems we have in creating sex education programs is the idea that the knowledge is only useful in the present. There’s a lot of talk about what’s appropriate for what age and parents are understandably squeamish about the idea of their children having sex. But for a lot of people, this is the only time in their life they will have any formal sex education. Teens become young adults, young adults become thirtysomething, somewhere in the spectrum they may have children, middle-age, maybe divorce, retire, live in nursing home, all the while HAVING SEX. When people ask do abstinence only programs “work”, I have to laugh. Work doing what? What is the goal? If prevention of teenage sex is the goal… well, they don’t even succeed at that. But if educating the public about sexual health is the goal, well they don’t even try. At some point, somewhere down the line almost everyone has sex and 98% of women will use contraception (Guttmacher). Even abstinent till marriage people have sex… when they get married! Just like we have a responsibility to teach teens math so they can balance their checkbook and understand their mortgage, we have a responsibility to teach teens about sex so they can make informed decisions throughout their lives.

  2. pandaroni
    Posted April 3, 2010 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    yes, yes, so much yes! I have always felt the same way. I was lucky enough to have comprehensive sex education (my husband was not, and I have recently learned that my middle school where I had the course now has an abstinence-only education class taught). Sex Ed did not only benefit me in the 7th grade. When I did decide to have sex, which was years later, I knew how to use a condom. When I got married and decided I wanted to try the nuva ring and then the pill, I did not feel like I had no idea what I was doing. I have always been glad I had that education when I was young.
    You know, I think the knowledge I gained from the class, plus the attitude of the teacher who taught it (she seemed confident and straightforward with us, not embarrassed by the subject matter at all) helped me to have a positive understanding of sex and to be able to be less awkward about the whole thing. It seems to me awkwardness and uncomfortableness might make someone less likely to insist on protection, too.

  3. Chris
    Posted April 3, 2010 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    “While CNN addressed the “abstinence-only” program from a couple of months ago that had some success (which was actually abstinence-focused and didn’t contain the same shaming and inaccuracies about contraception that abstinence-only programs have)”
    CNN seems to be on its way down, as it loses market share it’s working hard to court the Fox news voter. Way to lose the other demographics, CNN!

  4. elly simmons
    Posted April 4, 2010 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    “It’s time to cut the bullshit and acknowledge that teens’ health and lives shouldn’t be sacrificed for the sake of bipartisanship.”
    Amen!

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