Thursday, May 7, 2009

Obama Cuts Bush "Abstinence-Only" Program, Stresses Teen Pregnancy Prevention

In cutting budget funds for an "abstinence-only" program for schoolchildren, President Obama opted for realism as opposed to the religiously based social conservatism of the Bush administration:

President Barack Obama's $3.55 trillion budget proposal...eliminates spending for programs that teach U.S. schoolchildren sexual abstinence and shifts funds to programs aimed at reducing teenage pregnancy.

..."The program will fund models that stress the importance of abstinence while providing medically accurate and age-appropriate information to youth who have already become sexually active," the budget proposal said.

The so-called "abstinence only" programs, backed by many social conservatives who oppose the teaching of contraception methods to teenagers in schools, have received about $1.3 billion in federal funds since the late 1990s.

The track record of the abstinence program is not exactly an unmitigated success. Teens didn't necessarily stop have sex just because of the wishes of the Bush administration. "Abstinence only" programs presented sexually active teens with no guidance as to how to avoid pregnancy:

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics published in March said the U.S. teen birth rate rose for a second straight year in 2007 after a long decline.

Some experts blame the teen birth rate increases on government support for "abstinence-only" education under the Bush administration... But abstinence-only advocates have defended it as sound.

The American Public Health Association and U.S. Institute of Medicine told Congress last year that scientific studies have not found that abstinence-only teaching works to cut pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases.

The Bush administration was already conducting a war on science, in terms of abstinence, global warming and stem cell research, so what would scientific studies have meant to them? In electing Barack Obama, the country has made a giant leap from an eight-year medieval era.

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