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.