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.