More Evidence of Abstinence-Only Failure

A new report from the Guttmacher Institute shows that the nation’s teen pregnancy rate has increased for the first time in more than a decade. During that decade federal, state and local governments have spent billions of dollars on abstinence-0nly programs that deliberately exclude medically accurate information about contraception and other methods of responsible disease prevention.

From Heather Boonstra, senior public policy associate for the Guttmacher Institute:

“After more than a decade of progress, this reversal is deeply troubling. It coincides with an increase in rigid abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which received major funding boosts under the Bush administration. A strong body of research shows that these programs do not work. Fortunately, the heyday of this failed experiment has come to an end with the enactment of a new teen pregnancy prevention initiative that ensures that programs will be age-appropriate, medically accurate and, most importantly, based on research demonstrating their effectiveness.”

The Guttmacher study provides more evidence that promoting ignorance about sexuality and health is failing teens and their families across the country. A major report from the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund last year detailed the dominance of failed abstinence-only policies in Texas. Texas has one of the nation’s highest rates of births to teens and leads the nation in multiple births to teens.

The Obama administration has moved to eliminate federal funding for abstinence-only groups, but some in Congress want to keep money flowing to such groups. The Texas Freedom Network has also been working for comprehensive reform of sex education policies in the Texas Legislature and in local school districts.

Click here to learn more about what you can do to promote responsible sex education for teens in your community.

4 thoughts on “More Evidence of Abstinence-Only Failure

  1. I agree with TFN. We need accurate and comprehensive sex education with abstinence as a part of that—for those boys and girls who can actually do it—which appears to be a much smaller number than was originally thought by some.

    Once upon a time, I was a teenage boy with lots of male friends. I learned something important in those days—all teenage boys are sexual predators. Every last one of them is, including the darling baby boys down at the Christian Neo-Fundamentalist churches. As one of these devout little children of the Lord told my 15-year old daughter the other day, and this is an exact quote, “To be over one girl is to be under another.” My daughter and I talk about sex and other such awful things. Sadly, the sexual predation (and thoughts of it) by adolescent boys is usually coupled with enormous and dangerous amounts of sexual ignorance.

    Now, this is where the fundies enter from stage left and tell us that real sex education and effective contraception will promote widespread fornication and the STDs that come with it. This is where we learn from them that abstinence only sex education is not really about pregnancy prevention—not primarily. Instead, it is mostly about “sin prevention” first—with some pregnancy prevention thrown in as a favorable side effect. We also learn that God created “potential pregnancy” primarily as a deterrent measure to prevent fornication rather than as a means for reproducing the human species. I feel fairly sure this would have been news to God back in the old days (say 5,000,000 year ago in East Africa). But I digress.

    Might some extra kids have sex if they had contraceptives? Probably some. But just think of the millions upon millions upon millions of abortions such contraception would prevent in exchange for those limited numbers—and I do think it would be limited numbers who are sexually active. Planned Parenthood would have to close down 95 percent of their abortion clinics because of lack of demand—a simple law of the economic universe.

    Might God rain down wrath, death, and destruction upon America for a bit of increased fornication here and there? I do not know, and neither do the fundies over at the Eagle Forum. I do know that Biblical sin has been rampant in human hearts and in human lives from Day 12 or thereabouts—and on a whole lot more fronts than just fornication—and if God were in the mood to wreak destruction—none of us would be left now. Yet, here we are. God is loving and patient with us. While I make no recommendations, it might be possible that preventing all of that lost innocent life might outweigh a limited increase in fornication. After all, to use the Christian Neo-Fundamentalists’ own line of reasoning, if homosexuality is an “…abomination before the Lord…,” as opposed to the apparently lesser crime of lying to their neighbors about American history, maybe this same fundie “think-speak” equation would suggest that effective contraception and the prevention of millions of abortions might outweigh a limited increase in fornication among some. After all, they way it is going now with abstinence only, we have plenty of teenage fornication and enough abortion to fill a cornucopia stretching from Mercury to Pluto.

  2. Charles,

    I agree with your post, except that you are wrong about the good old days being 5,000,000 years ago in africa – clearly the earth is only 6,000 years old.

    Don’t impose your liberal agenda on the rest of us!



  3. Thanks Eric.

    I enjoyed my undergraduate and graduate primate and human paleontology courses back in the middle 1970s. Can you say, “KNMER-1470”? Both subfields of physical anthropology have advanced enormously since that time, so much so that I have been unable to catch up with current knowledge and thinking on various aspects of it. However, I do know this. It was enormous fun. Go down to your local university and take an evening class just for fun. It is highly recommended, and for us Christian uh-types, the morphological changes and transitions over time suggest a God who chooses to work with his own raw materials (what Carl Sagan called star stuff and the Bible calls “dust”) when he creates, and he chooses to go slowly and carefully—sometimes experimenting and discontinuing—and always surprising.

    Here is my old human paleontology teacher (Dr. Fred H. Smith), a devout Southern Baptist choir singer from Lenoir City, Tennessee. Take a look at him Terri Leo!!! Your children’s future education looks a lot like this. Fred moved from Illinois State University to Loyola University of Chicago about 10 years ago.