Skip to comments.Abstinence Education Under Attack (Another Waxman Debacle)
Posted on 12/10/2004 11:14:41 AM PST by NYer
Today, forty years after the dawn of the sexual revolution, most realize that the notion of free love is false. AIDS is wiping out half a continent; abortions take more than a million lives a year, and countless STDs negatively impact the health our sex-crazed culture.
Out-of-wedlock pregnancies make it much more likely teenage mothers will spend their lives in poverty. Anti-Christians like Austin Cline, who hosts an atheist and agnostic blog, pounced on the report. His piece on December 2 ran under the headline, Abstinence Programs Lie to Teens. Cline claimed, Abstinence programs are very popular with the Bush administration and his Christian Right base if sex is going to be mentioned in schools, it's only going to be mentioned in a manner that discourages it. Unfortunately these abstinence programs seem to be teaching all kinds of lies and myths in order to get the message across.
Given these social ills, promoting abstinence as an alternative for our young adults seems logical to most people. Inexplicably, the minority staff of the US House Committee on Government Reform released an inaccurate and biased study last week attacking federal abstinence programs.
The report, entitled The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Education Programs was released under the name of Representative Henry Waxman from California. He is the ranking minority member of the committee. The document begins by noting federal funds used to support abstinence-only education increased to $170 million in fiscal year 2005, more than double the amount earmarked in 2001.
It then launches a scathing attack on the content of the most popular abstinence-only curricula used by grantees of the largest federal abstinence initiative. The report claims over 80% of the abstinence-only curricula, used by over two-thirds of SPRANS [Special Programs of Regional and National Significance Community-Based Abstinence Education] grantees in 2003, contain false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health.
Specifically, the 26-page document argues that abstinence-only curricula:
* Contain false information about the effectiveness of contraceptives;
* Contain false information about the risks of abortion;
* Blur religion and science. (To back this up, the report cites a lesson that teaches life begins at conception. It also identifies another program that says a 43-day-old fetus is a thinking person.)
* Treat stereotypes about girls and boys as scientific fact;
* Contain scientific errors.
When Waxman released the report on December 1, it received widespread media coverage. The Washington Post ran it on the front page under the headline, Some Abstinence Programs Mislead Teens, Report Says. In the story, Waxman says, "I have no objection to talking about abstinence as a surefire way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. He continues, I don't think we ought to lie to our children about science. Something is seriously wrong when federal tax dollars are being used to mislead kids about basic health facts. The article also notes President Bush has enthusiastically backed the movement, a not-so-subtle suggestion that promoting abstinence is part of a religious crusade.
Taking up the theme from last months election that Bible-thumping zealots dominate America, Europe covered the report extensively. They were bolder in their effort to frame the debate as enlightened intellectuals versus knuckle-dragging Christians. The United Kingdoms Telegraph ran a story on December 3 with the headline, Facts of life turn out to be fiction for millions of US pupils. The lead claimed, Millions of American schoolchildren are offered religiously-inspired sex education courses that are riddled with falsehoods, a congressional staff report has found.
Another English paper, the Guardian, joined the fray with a headline, Washington Funds False Sex Lessons. Their lead said, The Bush administration is funding sexual health projects that teach children that HIV can be contracted through sweat and tears, touching genitals can result in pregnancy, and that a 43-day-old foetus is a thinking person.
The abortion lobby was quick to jump on board. Lifenews.com reported, Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt praised Waxman's report saying it proves what other research has already revealed - that abstinence-only programs are irresponsible, ineffective, and harmful to young people. Feldt said the vast majority of American parents want their children to have comprehensive and responsible sex education. The publication also noted the pro-abortion legal group the ACLU has long opposed abstinence education and has filed lawsuits to prevent religious groups from obtaining public funds for use in abstinence programs.
Los Angeles Planned Parenthood CEO Mary-Jane Waglé authored an op-ed recently in the Los Angeles Times under the headline, Abstinence-Only: Breeding Ignorance. She said, Imagine a driver's education course in which teachers show students grisly photos of traffic accidents but never tell them to stop at red lights or buckle their seat belts, and you've a pretty good idea of what abstinence-only sex education is like.
The Waxman report received strong criticism too. Alma Golden, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs in the Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement the same day as the reports release. She noted the Waxman document misses the boat. These issues have been raised before and discredited. She added, Unfortunately what they continue to do for purely political reasons is to take issues and information out of context to try and discredit abstinence education, which is a disservice to our children. One thing is very clear for our children, abstaining from sex is the most effective means of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, STDs and preventing pregnancy and the emotional, social and educational consequences of teen sexual activity. Golden adds, Studies show, as does my own experience as a pediatrician, that abstinence works especially when combined with the involvement of parents in educating their children about what expectations they have and the setting of boundaries of behavior.
The Heritage Foundations Melissa G. Pardue released a critique of the report entitled, Waxman Report Is Riddled with Errors and Inaccuracies. In it, she noted the liberal representatives document is yet another attempt by aggressive proponents of comprehensive sex education to discredit and undermine the message of authentic abstinence education. She found after careful review that the Waxman report is riddled with errors and inaccuracies about the effectiveness of abstinence education and the risks associated with early sexual activity.
She said Waxman ignores the fact the federal government in 2002 spent $12 promoting contraception and condom use for every $1 it spent to encourage teens to abstain from sexual activity. Waxman himself has a long record of opposing abstinence spending.
Pardue also takes exception with Waxmans claim there is no link between teen sex and increased risk of attempted suicide. She cites data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Wave II, 1996). In its analysis of this data, Heritage found that sexually active girls are more than three times as likely to be depressed and nearly three times more likely to try suicide than girls who are not sexually active. Boys who are sexually active are more than twice as likely to be depressed and eight times more likely to attempt suicide.
About Waxmans claim that abstinence programs are ineffective, Pardue says this is simply not true. There are currently 10 evaluations showing the effectiveness of abstinence education in reducing teen sexual activity. Of these 10 evaluations, four were published in peer-reviewed journals. She cites a 2003 study published in Adolescent and Family Health that found increased abstinence was the major cause of declining birth and pregnancy rates among teen girls.
She also takes Waxman to task for his claim that virginity pledges are not effective with teenagers. According to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Wave III, 2001), teens who take a virginity pledge have substantially lower levels of sexual activity and better life outcomes when compared to adolescents who do not make such a pledge. Specifically, teens who make the pledge are one-third less likely to experience teen pregnancy. They are also less likely to give birth as teens or young adults, to give birth out of wedlock, to engage in risky unprotected sex, and they will have almost half as many sexual partners as non-pledgers.
Most importantly, Purdue points out that Waxman ignores the fact that parents overwhelmingly support the values and messages of authentic abstinence education. Citing a January 2004 Zogby poll, she says:
* 91 percent of parents want schools to teach that adolescents should be expected to abstain from sexual activity during high school years.
* 79 percent of parents want teens taught they should not engage in sexual activity until they are married or at least in an adult relationship leading to marriage.
* 68 percent of parents want sex education programs to teach that individuals who are not sexually active until they are married have the best chances of marital stability and happiness.
* 91 percent of parents want teens taught the best choice is for sexual intercourse to be linked to love, intimacy, and commitment. These qualities are most likely to occur in a faithful marriage.
Purdue adds the types of comprehensive sex education programs that Waxman and his supporters favor are rejected and opposed by nearly all parents. They focus almost exclusively on contraception and cover very little if any abstinence training. The courses also contain graphic language that is inappropriate for students and adults.
Previous Heritage Foundation studies found these types of programs contain little, if any, encouragement to delay sexual activity. On average, these curricula devote only 4.7 percent of their page content to the topic of abstinence and zero percent to healthy relationships and marriage.
Pope Paul VI foresaw in 1968 how contraception would usher in a moral and societal breakdown when he released his famous and prophetic encyclical, Humanae Vitae. Let them first consider how easily [contraception] could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law.
Attacks by liberals like Waxman on abstinence programs are powerful, corrosive, and evil as Pope Paul VI suggests. They are also false. Presidential candidate John Kerry argued similarly that those opposing abortion do so because of their faith. While premarital sex and unintended results like abortion are morally wrong, they also damage our community and ourselves. On this people of faith and non-believers alike can agree. As Golden says, Just like we tell them not to smoke or take drugs, or drink and drive, we tell them abstinence is best so they can grow up to be healthy, thriving adults.
How many AIDS deaths will it take? How many abortions are necessary? How many women enslaved in poverty do there have to be? When will those who push the same failed comprehensive sex education programs admit their approach is inherently flawed? The answer is never. As Chuck Colsen says, we are engaged in a titanic clash of worldviews. Abstinence versus comprehensive sex education is just another front in the culture war.
St. Thomas More, pray for us.
Anti-Christians like Austin Cline, who hosts an atheist and agnostic blog, pounced on the report. His piece on December 2 ran under the headline, Abstinence Programs Lie to Teens. Cline claimed, Abstinence programs are very popular with the Bush administration and his Christian Right base if sex is going to be mentioned in schools, it's only going to be mentioned in a manner that discourages it. Unfortunately these abstinence programs seem to be teaching all kinds of lies and myths in order to get the message across.
This is not the paranoid rambling of a right wing radical wacko. This is a FACT.
Cicero observed, "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gate is less formidable, for he is known and he carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves among those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very hall of government itself he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist."
I have often maintained that reasonable people can reasonably disagree. However, as evidenced and documented in the work of Tammy Bruce, David Horowitz, Ann Coulter and others, when dealing with the elitist liberal left, that claim assumes facts not in evidence.
If (and this is a big honking 'if') the objective of political debate is "fairness", or at least the illusion of objectivity, why such strident shrillness from the left?
There are over 50 Democrats in Congress who are members of a policy group working with, and being promoted by the Democratic Socialists of America, the domestic branch of the Socialist International Party.
According to the DSA's own website, "DSA's members are building progressive movements for social change while establishing an openly socialist presence in American communities and politics. ..."
DSA was (and is) working with the Congressional Progressive Caucus. According to the Democratic Socialists, the caucus they are heavily promoting includes among its membership significant liberal movers and shakers, including Nancy Pelosi and Henry Waxman.
Source: TREASON FROM WITHIN
Inexplicably, the minority staff of the US House Committee on Government Reform released an inaccurate and biased study last week attacking federal abstinence programs.
In Waxman's case, abstinence wasn't a choice.
You could sell halloween masks with his face on them...very scary!
Waxman is nothing more than another Marxist Socialist bomb thrower. He's a piece of Crap!! He is so Anti American he stinks!
Sexual Education Belongs in the HOME !!! Not by the Government. The big problem here is that the Government wants to convience you that you, as a parent are not qualified to raise your child.
The reason you are not Qualified according to the Democratic Socialist (Mr. Waxman) is because you will teach them what You want them to know, your Values. The Correct Right from Wrong.
Please take a few moments to read this:
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Interesting. When I read the results of the Zogby poll (91 percent of parents want schools to teach that adolescents should be expected to abstain from sexual activity during high school years, etc) my first thought was that Feldt was lying. Rereading her statement, I realize it doesn't actually contradict the poll. She just leaves out the truth about what parents actually want which is the opposite of what Planned Barrenhood wants.
Personally I agree that sex ed should be left to parents, especially with educators like Deb Allen around.
thanks for posting this. it isn't just that abortion is staining the integrity of our national character with a reputation for murdering the innocent, and it isn't just that easy sex leads to venereal disease and staining the inner integrity of all who practice it, what is important here is that, apart from these official abstinence education programs, the main effort of government funded, Planned Parenthood-designed sex education programs are in fact literally destroying our culture from the inside by attacking the very roots of community: the family created and nurtured by two married, committed people whose relationship of faithfulness and exclusiveness is fundamental for the success of their family. Such families are not being encouraged and fostered because of the very existence of Planned Parenthood's programs designed to inculcate sex appreciation - without a solemn, lifetime commitment to one's partner- into children's minds.
You are absolutely correct! I believe you will find great merit in these two documents.
Vatican Document On Homosexual Unions
Homosexual unions are totally lacking in the biological and anthropological elements of marriage and family which would be the basis, on the level of reason, for granting them legal recognition. Such unions are not able to contribute in a proper way to the procreation and survival of the human race. The possibility of using recently discovered methods of artificial reproduction, beyond involving a grave lack of respect for human dignity,(15) does nothing to alter this inadequacy.
CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION TO UNIONS BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS
2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person -- among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
Catechism Catholic Church