Bill’s Loophole Upsets Abstinence Program Backers
August 13, 2007
Proponents of abstinence-only sex education say the House-passed bill that renews the $50 million-a-year Title V Abstinence Education program for two years was written in a way that "guts" its intent.
Under HR 3162, passed Aug. 1, the House added a "state option" to the program. This would allow states to use the funds for abstinence-only programs or programs that "promote abstinence" but teach "additional methods" to minimize health risks to sexually active teens and to prevent teen pregnancy.
Since 1996, when Title V was enacted, funds from it have been designated exclusively for programs that meet an eight-point definition of abstinence education.
David Christensen, director of congressional affairs at the Family Research Council, said the new state option means abstinence funds could be used to teach teenagers about birth control, condom use, and even abortion. "This bill was drafted explicitly to gut the current abstinence education program as we know it and, frankly, undermine the options states have to provide genuine abstinence education," he said.
The bill was written to "give abstinence education funding to sex advocacy groups," said Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association.
Supporters of comprehensive sex education say the change gives states more flexibility in what they teach. Several states, including California, refuse the Title V money because it is too restrictive, said William Smith, vice president for public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. The new version will allow states to fund programs that discuss both abstinence and birth control, he said.
8.11.2007; Cheryl Wetzstein
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.