Bush abstinence sex education programs policy

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Skip to content. Medically accurate information is critical to preventing and treating health conditions, and few would dispute that people should have the knowledge they need to avoid risks and make wise decisions about their bodies and health care. Further, schools are expected to provide factual information about the topics they cover, including health education.

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The Bush administration's "controversial" abstinence-only education initiative is "catching on, if only because there is more federal money available for it," the New York Times reports in a profile of the debate surrounding federal funding of sex education. Federal health officials say that there is "intense" competition for funding for abstinence-only education programs. Of recent applications for federal abstinence grants, were approved and 53 received financing.

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The U. These grants support programs that have been shown to be effective through rigorous research and also include testing of new, innovative approaches to combating teen pregnancy. To qualify, programs had to be supported by at least one study showing a positive, statistically significant effect on at least one of the following: sexual activity, contraceptive use, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy or births.

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Sex education has long occupied an ideological fault line in American life. Religious conservatives worry that teaching teenagers about birth control will encourage premarital sex. Liberals argue that failing to teach about it ensures more unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. So it was a welcome development when, a few years ago, Congress began to shift funding for sex education to focus on evidence-based outcomes, letting effectiveness determine which programs would get money.

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The first increase in teen pregnancy in more than a decade has, unsurprisingly, led many to place blame on Bush's heavy funding of abstinence-only education. The Guttmacher Institute report that identified the teen-pregnancy increase suggests that it has to do with "the growth of abstinence-only sex education programs at the expense of comprehensive programs. With the Bush administration in power, though, Congress directed a whole lot of money towards abstinence-only education—telling kids just to keep it in their pants until marriage because we all know how well that works as a life-long "don't get pregnant" plan.

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If half of U. Continued federal funding for abstinence- only-until-marriage sex education programs that leave teens without the facts they need to protect themselves from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases appears secure under legislation currently pending in Congress. Opponents of the measure fear spending could go higher.

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Abstinence-only sex education is a form of sex education that teaches not having sex outside of marriage. It often excludes other types of sexual and reproductive health education, such as birth control and safe sex. Comprehensive sex educationby contrast, covers the use of birth control and sexual abstinence.

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Federally funded abstinence-only programs use curricula that contain "false, misleading or distorted information about reproductive health," according to a congressional study prepared for Representative Henry A. Waxman D-CA. For example, while abstinence-only classes encourage young people to take a pledge that they will remain virgins until marriage, the Waxman study cites research that indicates "virginity pledgers" are no less likely to engage in premarital sex than their peers. Pledgers have rates of sexually transmitted diseases similar to other teens, and are less likely to use contraception in the event that they do engage in sexual intercourse.

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This news is, of course, not really news at all. When former president George Bush was still pushing for more funding for abstinence-only sex education programmes in Novemberit was immediately after a study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that comprehensive sex ed programmes — which included contraception information as an integral feature — were most effective at preventing teen pregnancy. It was also a year after another report found that the increased number of unwanted pregnancies was disproportionately concentrated in impoverished communities: "Women living in poverty are now almost four times more likely to become pregnant unintentionally than women of greater means.

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Sarah McCammon. In the U. Abstaining from sexual activity is a surefire way to prevent pregnancy and avoid sexually transmitted diseases. But programs advocating abstinence often fail to prevent young people from having sex, researchers write in the September issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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