Take Action: Counter The Abstinence-Only Lobby

This morning, the National Abstinence Education Association is holding its annual Capitol Hill Lobby Day. They will have meetings all day with legislators on the Hill, asking them to continue funding their abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Yes, this is despite the fact that study after independent study has shown abstinence-only programs to be ineffective, and that $1.5 billion of our taxes have already been thrown into this failure.

These programs have been nothing short of a national embarrassment over the past decade. We have a subsidized curriculum that gives factual errors, gross misrepresentation of condom effectiveness, proselytizing, anti-abortion propaganda, and harmful gender stereotypes to students. Not to mention Abstinence Clowns and advice to kids not to believe rape victims if they have a “reputation” (i.e., not a virgin).

And what do we have to show for this? One of the highest rates of teenage births and STI’s among all industrialized nations. Abstinence-only education has not only been a colossal failure, it has been a horrible bargain.

Even with a new president who speaks favorably about comprehensive sex education, and a Democratic Congress lead by someone who has publicly spoken out about the need to transition away from abstinence-only education, we face a situation today that does not guarantee that these ineffective programs will finally be defunded.

President Obama is currently finalizing the details of his 2010 fiscal year budget, and these are the possible outcomes we could see when it is released:


  • President Obama eliminates all abstinence-only funding (right on!)
  • President Obama leaves in all abstinence-only funding (major disaster)
  • President Obama makes some cuts, but leaves in some abstinence-only funding


Even in the best case scenario, where Obama cuts all or most abstinence-only funding, this does not necessarily lead us out of the woods. Many in Congress would certainly try to sneak ab-only funding back in through the appropriations process. This is a serious possibility, due to the fact that Rep. David Obey (D-WI) chairs the House Appropriations Committee and actually tried to increase ab-only funding in 2007. Furthermore, in 2008 he continued to ignore the recommendations of his fellow Democrats to cut its funding. In the annals of abstinence-only education, it would not be an exaggeration to call David Obey one of its greatest champions and allies.

This is where you come in: the progressive blogosphere, the reproductive justice community, and youth advocates. We have to make sure that the NAEA’s message is not the only side of the story that Congress hears tomorrow. For every lobbyist that a representative gets in their office tomorrow morning, we need 100 letters from our side to counter them.

I urge you to send this letter to your Congressperson, asking them to defund abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.

After a decade of these ineffective programs spending $1.5 billion to misinform and endanger the sexual health of countless youth, it is time to finally bring change to Washington and America.

This post first appeared on Amplify.

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  • invalid-0

    Abstinence-Only is an EARMARK, benefiting only religious right organizations that get the money, rejected by 17 states that know it’s a waste, and proven ineffective. The Action Center should be using this as an alert strategy – I’m sending an email to my senator, DeMint, asking why he is supporting this earmark when he is so vocally opposing earmarks.

    • http://www.bodybuildingstorereviews.com invalid-0

      You are wrong. That is not factually correct at all. YOu got it backwards actually.

  • invalid-0

    I have heard that David Obey is responding to his Catholic constituency in his support of abstinence-only – it would be useful to know if this is the case because it would suggest strategies for turning him around – such as data on Catholic support for Comprehensive Sexuality Education.

  • invalid-0

    …We must support age-appropriate, scientifically accurate, comprehensive sex ed in public schools.

    …Also, I’d like to know of any civic or church organizations who are deciminating this information. The United Churches of Christ and Unitarian Universalists share a “Our Whole Lives” (OWL) program to their young people. And, yes, it is a comprehensive sex education program. Here are a couple of links:

    …Are there any other organizations spreading the “good news”? The more outlets for this vital information, the better. Please let me stress that I don’t believe that only the “private sector” should be doing this.

  • invalid-0

    For those who say abstinence is impossible, just ask any married couple.

  • invalid-0

    So if right-wingers wanna stop gay sex, then they should allow gay marriage. Right?

  • invalid-0

    It’s time to refer to us people the way they refer to themselves. If they are ‘pro-life’, that makes us anti-life, right?

    So we should call ourselves things like ‘anti-rape’, when discussing that slice of their putrid education. Because, really, the blame-the-victim thing, that’s the rapists’ point of view. I’m fully justified in raping her cuz she’s a slut. Then law enforcement says, it was OK that he raped her cuz she’s a slut. You know she’s a slut cuz she’s been raped. They’re all on the same page.

    When discussing the HPV vaccine, we are the Anti-Cancer people. (by implication making them pro-cancer. but don’t actually say that, that’s tacky.) Cuz, really that motivates us, right? Kids are going to have sex, we’re just trying to contain the damage.

    And, when discussing sex ed, we are the anti-teen-pregnancy people. A bit awkward, but truthful, that’s what’s really happening. The christianists actually WANT the ‘sluts’ to get snagged with pregnancy and STDs, they want them to go to hell. Even it it’s their own daughters. And this modern stuff like condoms, spoils the fun.

    must come up with a more compact phrase. Maybe ‘pro-teen’? They’re the ones who want the teens to go to hell.

  • http://realhomedeals.info invalid-0

    Obama eliminated abstinence and I think this was a sensible decision. The money should go towards teaching more complex and less-tangible ideas like proper birth control, the dangers of unsafe sex, how to discuss this with your parents or conversely with your child, knowledge of how to act in a healthy manner if one gets pregnant, and who to contact if you do get pregnant, whether it’s keeping the child, opting for adoption, or a legal abortion. Obviously, the pros of abstinence would be discussed too.