Abstinence education programsare medically accurate. But they violate the sacred dogma of the sex ed establishment.
Let's play a word association game. I'll write a phrase, and you observe what other word or phrase first comes to your mind.
The phrase is "abstinence education."
So what did you think of? If the first words that came to your mind were "medically inaccurate" or something to that effect, then Congressman Henry Waxman has done his job well.
Why would you associate "abstinence education" with "medically inaccurate"? Because, in the past days and week, those two terms have been linked in news stories, talk show discussions, and that annoying little ticker that runs along the bottom of the screen on every 24 hour cable news network.
All thanks to Congressman Henry Waxman.
Mr. Waxman, the Democratic congressional representative from West Hollywood, California, recently released a "report" on abstinence education. (You'll see soon why I put the word "report" in quotation marks.) Hearing news stories about this "report" could plant doubts in even the most fervent supporter of abstinence education. According to Waxman, these programs are literally riddled with inaccurate medical information and absurd gender stereotypes. Eleven out of the 13 programs reviewed, he says, contained significant errors and problems.
I was a little worried - until I read the actual report.
First of all, this is not a "congressional report" reviewed or approved by any committee of Congress. It was written by the very partisan staff of a very partisan Congressman. Mr. Waxman is one of the most vocal proponents of explicit, contraceptive-based sex education on Capital Hill. It is apparent from the very first page of this document that it is not an even-handed, objective attempt to evaluate programs. It is an angry, partisan smear job.
Waxman claims that no evidence exists that abstinence education works. I found this an astonishing complaint, given that, according to the Heritage Foundation, at least ten studies exist to date demonstrating the effectiveness of abstinence education, and four of these were published in peer-reviewed journals. In fact, the April 2003 edition of Adolescent and Family Health found that increased abstinence was the major cause of the decline in teen pregnancy and birth rates.
Waxman's complaints about these programs seem to fall into three categories: "inaccurate information" about abortion, about condoms, and about gender roles. As far as I can tell, most of the passages in dispute don't violate the facts so much as they violate the "orthodoxy" of the comprehensive sex-education movement. For instance, Waxman reports that one program states as fact that the union of the sperm and egg constitutes the beginning of a new human life. This, he claims, is a "religious view" and not a scientific fact.
Really? It's human. It's living. It didn't exist before. What scientist would disagree with that?
Waxman also objects to these programs' information about abortion - specifically, the increased risks of sterility and suicide. This I found particularly astonishing. The Elliott Institute (www.afterabortion.info), among others, has done a very thorough job documenting the consequences women suffer as a result of abortion. Waxman blithely ignores this evidence, instead relying solely on a 2003 Obstetrics textbook which claims that abortion has no long-term negative impact on women.
Perhaps Mr. Waxman should conduct a review of the scientific accuracy of medical textbooks.
In terms of the myriad other "problems" reported in these programs, I found in my research that they were either quotes taken out of context, statistics which were due to be updated, typographical errors or, in most cases, facts which were consistent with the current data but at odds with the prevailing orthodoxy of the left.
Worse yet is the information Waxman's report omitted. Sexual activity takes a huge toll on our teenagers. Aside from the obvious pregnancy and disease rates, sexually active teens experience higher rates or drug use, depression and suicide Ð facts which are ignored in these so-called "comprehensive" sex education programs.
In fact, why hasn't Mr. Waxman done a comprehensive review of the "comprehensive" programs? Why doesn't he shine the light of medical and scientific truth on the curricula he champions in Congress? Why did he choose to review only abstinence curriculum?
In a word, money. The government will spend $170 million on abstinence programs in 2005. Mr. Waxman doesn't like that. He would rather see that money go to his "comprehensive" sex education programs. And so, he's trying to get the public to associate "abstinence education" with "medically inaccurate," so that he can create a public outcry, and try to limit or remove that funding.
Don't let it work. Abstinence education protects our teenagers. It keeps them pure. It can save their lives.
"Protects teenagers." "Saves lives." Those are the terms we need to
associate with "abstinence education."
For more information, to go The Heritage Foundation, or The Medical Institute.
(This article was originally published as "Waxman Mangles the Facts" in December 2004.)
Beth Bonacci is internationally known for her talks and writings
about love, chastity, and sexuality. Since 1986 she has spoken to tens
of thousands of young people, including 75,000 people in 1993 at World
Youth Day in Denver, Colorado. She appears frequently on radio and television
programs, including several appearances on MTV.
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