Last week, the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee took the first step towards eliminating evidence-based comprehensive sex education programs (PREP: Personal Responsibility Education Programs) while protecting Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage programs already found to have “no impact on teen behavior.” On Tuesday of this week the full committee will take similar action.
If deficit hypocrisy were an Olympic event, I think the Republicans on the Health Subcommittee won the gold medal – and the silver and bronze as well! It is astounding that they would classify as a “slush fund” a government sex education program requiring grantees to base their programs on scientific evidence while continuing to champion Title V abstinence-only programs proven ineffective by a ten-year Congressionally-mandated independent evaluation released four years ago.
Clearly, there is still room in the House of Representatives for earmarks. They just have to be ideological earmarks! How else can one justify jettisoning a program that requires evidence in favor of a program that doesn’t have any evidence of effectiveness. Clearly it’s acceptable to these House Republicans to fund a failed boondoggle of a program as long as it’s part of the orthodoxy of religious conservatives, a key Republican constituency.
This blatant assertion of politics and ideology over science and basic common sense would be laughable were it not for the impact on young people in this country. The U.S. already has some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy, STDs, and HIV in the developed world. Promoting programs that prohibit information about condoms and birth control for the prevention of pregnancy and disease is tantamount to promoting ignorance in the era of AIDS. It is not simply naïve and misguided, it is dangerous and irresponsible.
Every day in America 10,000 young people are infected with an STD, over 2,000 become pregnant, and 50 contract HIV. The Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are about to send a clear message that they care a lot more about politics and ideology than they do about the health and safety of American youth.