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Bush uses tax $ to force abstinence education

by Saida Oliver, '05

As part of his extensive campaign against women and young adult rights, President Bush and his administration are proposing doubling the $110 billion budget for abstinence-only programs in schools. He would raise it to $220 billion, despite lack of evidence that it will work.

Recent studies have shown several positive trends concerning contraceptive use and teenage sexuality. There has been a drop in teenage pregnancy, a rise in contraceptive use, and teens are becoming more consciously aware of the repercussions associated with sexual intercourse. However, the adolescent reproductive health crisis still seems to persist in the U.S. The rate of sexually transmitted disease (STD), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and teenage pregnancy continue to be deplorably high. In the State of the Union Address, Bush announced his solution to the crisis. “We will double the federal funding for abstinence programs, so schools can teach this fact of life: Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.” No federal money has been budgeted to continue to teach about contraception use in schools.





A study conducted in Minnesota revealed sexual activity doubled among junior high students taking part in an abstinence only program. The study, conducted by the state’s health department, recommended expanding the program to include more information about contraception. Robert Rector, senior policy analyst in the Bush administration who helped write the abstinence education program, disregarded the study as unscientific. “Kids today are saturated with information about contraception and messages about encouraging permissive sex,” he said.


James Waggoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a group that promotes education about birth control and condom use, alleges abstinence-only programs deny teenagers useful information about the effectiveness of condoms in stopping the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. “These [abstinence-only] programs really evolved into anti-condom programs,” Waggoner said.

Though abstinence education is a crucial part of sex education, it should not be the only message taught. Another approach has to be taken before the lack of knowledge about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases snowball into effective behavior. Here are a few common sense solutions:

· An increase in family planning funding for low-income families.

· There needs to be an expansion of awareness and access to emergency contraceptives, such as the morning-after pill.

· There should be an increase in funding inspiring young women to seek healthy, independent, and fulfilling futures.

Educate the youth with knowledge rather than restricting them with ignorance. Sex education should begin in elementary and reinforced in middle and secondary schools nationwide.

Young adults should be encouraged to practice abstinence while being well informed on contraception, STD and HIV prevention so they can make responsible decisions about becoming sexually active.

Adolescents cannot vote. The have no political power. Therefore, they represent an helpless target for anti-choice lawmakers obsessed with restricting the reproductive freedom of all American women.


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