Los Angeles Times Examines Support Of Abstinence-Only Education

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Abstinence-Only Sex Education

The Los Angeles Timeson Sunday examined the outlook for federally funded abstinence-only sexeducation programs. Although some Democrats have "long criticized theprograms" for being ineffective at curbing sexually transmittedinfections and teen pregnancy, the programs are "surviving attempts toshut them down" in part because of support from House AppropriationsCommittee Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) (Alonso-Zaldivar, Los Angeles Times, 10/14).

The House in July voted 276-140 to approve a $152 billion fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill (HR 3043), which includes an increase in funding for HHS' Community-Based Abstinence Education Program that gives grants to groups that teach abstinence but not how to use contraception (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report,7/20). The measure included a $28 million increase from $113 millionfor CBAE, which President Bush requested, according to the Times.

According to the Times, the other major federal abstinence education program, called Title V, also is "holding [its] own" in Congress (Los Angeles Times,10/14). The Title V program distributes money based on a formulafavoring states with more low-income children. To receive Title Vfunds, states must adhere to certain requirements, including barringteachers from discussing contraception and requiring them to say thatsex within marriage is "the expected standard of sexual activity." Manystate governors have said the grants place too many restrictions on thecurricula (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 9/5). Twelve states have rejected Title V funding.

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The Timesreports that Obey is supporting the programs in an attempt to avoid the"highly charged terrain of moral issues" and garner Republican supportfor other programs Bush wants to cut. Senate committee leaders areattempting to reduce funding for abstinence-only sex educationprograms.

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Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.),who has criticized abstinence-only programs, recently said, "I've madeclear to my colleagues that I don't believe abstinence-only is aneffective approach or that it makes sense to increase funding," adding,"I haven't been able to prevail on the issue of appropriations but planto continue to fight for better programs for youth."

James Wagoner -- president of Advocates for Youth-- said that some Democrats have "used the abstinence-only issue as thecornerstone of the claim that the Bush administration was puttingideology and politics ahead of science," adding, "Now they suddenlyhave gone mute and silent when their own people are in power." ValerieHuber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association,said, "We're expecting funding to be pretty comparable to what it wasin the past," adding, "Those who oppose abstinence education areprobably more surprised than I am."

Robert Rector, a senior policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation,said that he believes Democrats "do not want to be saddled with killingabstinence education." However, Jackie Payne, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Federation of America,said there is "tangible evidence that there is going to be an end" tofederal funding for abstinence-only programs. Rector said that hebelieves Democrats will wait until after the 2008 election season toseek to end federal funding for abstinence education. According to the Times, Obey's office declined a request for an interview (Los Angeles Times, 10/14).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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