Time to Say No to Abstinence-Only


Last
week, the announcement that Governor Palin’s daughter is pregnant reignited
a national conversation about teenage pregnancy that was first sparked earlier in the
year by Jamie Lynn Spears and the film Juno.

The issue of teen pregnancy deserves more than
fleeting tabloid coverage.  It needs sustained
attention and action. Each
year
, 750,000 adolescents in the U.S. become pregnant – far more than in most other industrialized nations – and 82 percent of such pregnancies are unintended. In addition to potential risks to the health
of both the mother and her child, pregnancy at a young age can severely limit a
young woman’s ability to complete her education – and subsequently to
find a well-paying job.

Yet,
rather than addressing this critical public health issue through comprehensive
and medically accurate sex education which includes information on abstinence
and contraception, the federal government has spent more than $1.5 billion on
abstinence-only programs that have failed our teens.

Federally
funded abstinence-only programs are expressly prohibited from providing any
information to adolescents about the proper use of contraceptives, or their
proven efficacy in preventing unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted
infections (STIs) – only their failure rates can be discussed. On top of
slanting the information, studies have documented that over 80 percent
of abstinence-only curricula actually provide medically inaccurate and
misleading information about contraception and other reproductive health care
– including grossly exaggerated failure rates for condoms and false information
about the risks of abortion.

Considering
how far women candidates have come in the 2008 election season, it is
especially galling that some of these curricula teach that girls care less than
boys about achievement and their futures. For example, Why kNOw (2002), a curriculum used by
seven federally-funded abstinence-only programs, teaches: "women gauge
their happiness and judge their success by their relationships. Men’s
happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments."

Study after study
demonstrate that abstinence-only programs don’t work, and the public
agrees. According to a recent poll
conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, two-thirds (64%) of women
voters say that it is extremely or very important for Congress and the next
administration to address policies that will help prevent unintended
pregnancies by expanding access to contraceptives and comprehensive sex
education.

Rather
than continuing to fund ineffective, inaccurate, and dangerous abstinence-only
programs, we should invest in comprehensive sex education programs that help
teens meet the challenges they face. Young people – particularly young
women – need and deserve comprehensive information that is accurate and
unbiased to prevent unintended pregnancies and STIs, and to make responsible
decisions for their health and their lives.

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  • http://feministblogproject.wordpress.com invalid-0

    “women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships. Men’s happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments”

    That is DISGUSTING. I cannot believe that people are allowed to teach such complete hogwash to ANYONE, whether they go to public or private school. Abstinence-only sex ed is bad enough. But this is even worse.

    Thanks for the report. Keep up the good work!

  • invalid-0

    Someone needs to ask Gov. Palin how that abstinence only program she’s been pushing is working for her and her family. Apparently, she and the Republican delegates are very pleased with the pregnant daughter because they cheer and applaud her at every opportunity. Doesn’t this ring of hypocrisy from these big mouthed zealots of “family values”? I know one thing…..those are not my family values.

  • invalid-0

    would say to kill the evidence and not face the natural consequences of your actions. Your values would have you put your 14yr old daughter on Birth Control and tell her to share herself with whomever she pleases. Palin and her daughter are heroes because they are accountable for their actions unlike you and your people who want to “hide,” cover up or dispose of them altogether.

    Abstinence Only is the TRUTH, and needs to be taught. Contraception and Abortion are bandaids covering up the deeper moral dilemma this country is facing. You are allowing your 1.8 children per family (who will one day run this country) to experience zero consequences. We cannot take away accountability and reason or we will be more lost than we already are. Get to the core. The core is that we have a morally diseased country so let the natural consequences happen – once the “pain” outweighs the “pleasure” people will stop. Right now, through the advocacy of contraception and abortion you are taking the natural “pain” of these decisions away from them and so all they experience is the “pleasure.” This is basic psych 101, people! Let’s get going.

    Palin is a great woman, and its good to see they still exist.

    • invalid-0

      Fortunately most specialists on the subject agree it doesn’t work! When I come across such antiquated way of thinking, I feel we are going back to the Middle Ages. It wouldn’t be such a serious matter I would laugh at such comments & dismiss them as a bad joke. On the one hand we allow women to be portrayed as sexual objects to be “consumed” at a younger & younger age (ie Pageants,Model Agencies,Pop stars & the like) & on the other hand we should advocate abstinence? Back to the drawing board! Education,information,discussion : please involve young people at all levels of discussion, ban home schooling as most home schooled kids end up psychologically “mangled” having being exposed to only one very byist way of thinking & are known to often require therapy for years for not having been allowed to experience life responsibly. Introduce compulsory Philosophy to train people to think & make choices : “There are no easy answers,only informed decisions”.

  • mellankelly1

     Palin and her daughter are heroes because they are accountable for their actions

    How is getting pregnant being "accountable" for abstinence only education?  So, you’re a "hero" if the ideology you push upon the general population is falling on deaf ears in your own house?

    Abstinence Only is the TRUTH, and needs to be taught

    Well clearly, more needs to be done then simply "teaching" this TRUTH – it appears as if people are having trouble with the "learning" abstinence only.

  • invalid-0

    “Your values would have you put your 14yr old daughter on Birth Control and tell her to share herself with whomever she pleases.”

    What an ugly and fundamentally dishonest thing to say.

    Mrs Palin and folks like you advocate punishing and humiliating pregnant teenagers (while always giving the males who are at least as responsible and sometimes a great deal more a free ride) I believe that, unlike social conservatives (who, after all, cut funding for things like child support enforcement) most of the folks here would encourage jail time for adult males who have sex with 14 year olds.
    And, btw, hauling your pregnant 17 year old around the country after issuing a press release about her pregnancy is the worst sort of parenting. I cannot imagine the sort of vicious ‘values’ which would embrace such a display but, then, social conservatives have always been assholes. I just wish you folks would stop holding your trashy selves up as positive examples.

  • invalid-0

    Get to the core. The core is that we have a morally diseased country so let the natural consequences happen – once the “pain” outweighs the “pleasure” people will stop. Right now, through the advocacy of contraception and abortion you are taking the natural “pain” of these decisions away from them and so all they experience is the “pleasure.”

    What pain exactly are you talking about? The pain of sex, or the pleasure of sex? What will people stop doing exactly and what painful decisions are “we” taking away and how are we doing that? This makes absolutely no sense. Something else that makes no sense is your cute little notion of Abstinence as TRUTH. Especially given the fact people have sex and will always have sex (much of it pre/post/never-martial) while at the same time having no inclination whatsoever to be a parent or gestate. Are you advocating married couples shouldn’t have sex if they don’t want to become pregnant? Are you advocating that adults of all ages be celibate their entire lives if marriage is not their bags of chips? Or are you just speaking about teenage women? Why don’t you try looking at the truth you so often advocate? There is no way you will ever convince anyone to stop having sex and there is no way you will convince teenagers to not start having sex. Many have already had sex by the time Ab-only education comes around. It’s a primal urge that has been refined over hundreds of thousands of years, much of it before sex was co-opted by religions. What are you really advocating for? Reduced abortion or gov’t regulation of woman’s sexuality? It’s been proven by none other than Sarah Palin that abstinence-ed does not reduce teenage pregnancy. If you are for reduced abortion, I would think the area you would target in your advocacy would be preventing unwanted pregnancies that lead directly to abortion. (Ie contraception that is widely available, really cheap or free even)

    Sex is not bad truthreturns. If you don’t like it, fine, don’t have it. But many of us enjoy it quite a bit and will continue having it as long as we possibly can all the while preventing unwanted pregnancies. How do we know how to do that? SEX-ED in middle and high school for me.

  • http://www.clemens.asia invalid-0

    Gov. Palin is past and for me it is good so. I don´t like people how point with a finger on other people and themselves are not better or even worse.