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U.S. News

Future of Abstinence-Only Funding Is in Limbo

January 21, 2009

Opponents of abstinence-only sex education plan to urge the Obama administration to eliminate federal funding for the programs, which they consider ineffective. But program supporters will lobby Congress and President Obama to keep at least some of the $176 million-a-year funding for abstinence programs intact.

Obama is thought to be in favor of comprehensive sex education. "Talking with Obama, he totally understands the need for young people to have comprehensive sex education," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Richards called the federal abstinence-only effort of the past decade "an utter failure that has wasted more than $1.5 billion." She added that several major studies showed no evidence that abstinence-only sex education is effective in preventing teen sex.

Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), said she believes Congress will support funding for comprehensive sex education over abstinence programs. "We believe the amount of money that goes into [abstinence education] would be so much better used on things to prevent unwanted pregnancies," Slaughter said. "I think we'll have enough votes to deal with it."

Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, said Congress should fund both types of programs. "Now is not the time to remove even one of the tools that can help teens," said Huber.

Slaughter, however, said she would oppose dual funding: "We can't have both, because abstinence-only doesn't work."

Sarah Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said she does not oppose abstinence-only research, but she prefers "science-driven" comprehensive programs. "In a highly constrained fiscal environment, it's critical to focus precious dollars on programs that have evidence of good effects," said Brown. "When you look at the best science, the abstinence-only programs come up short."

Back to other news for January 2009

Adapted from:
Associated Press
01.18.2009; David Crary

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.
See Also
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
Abstinence Programs


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