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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
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
Ignatius Press books by Mary
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.
Mary Beth has written two books, We're
on a Mission from God and Real
Love, and also writes a regular, syndicated column for various
publications. She has developed numerous videos, including her brand-newest
video series, also entitled Real Love. Her video Sex
and Love: What's a Teenager to Do? was awarded the 1996 Crown
Award for Best Youth Curriculum.
Mary Beth holds a bachelor's degree in Organizational Communication from
the University of San Francisco, and a master's degree in Theology of
Marriage and Family from the John Paul II Institute at Lateran University.
She was also awarded an honorary doctorate in Communications from the
Franciscan University of Steubenville, and is listed in Outstanding
Young Women of America for 1997.
Visit Mary Beth and Real Love Incorporated online here.
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