June 8, 2007
Democrats for ab-only: unbelievable
Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives Thursday moved to give domestic abstinence-only programs the second-largest increase in history.
The House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations decided to increase funding for Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) grants, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that the abstinence-only-until-marriage programs it supports do not work.
It had been widely believed that the programs would be cut or eliminated by the new Democrat-controlled Congress, but by adding $27.8 million, the House Appropriations Committee is apparently willing to do President Bush's bidding and ramp CBAE up to $141 million a year, almost exactly what the President had requested.
The move appears to be a ploy by the Democratic majority designed to win enough Republican votes to make the spending bill veto-proof.
"There is no other way to describe this concession but as shameful," said William Smith, vice president for public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).
You can e-mail Nancy Pelosi at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her how ridiculous it is for Democrats to ramp up abstinence-only programs that are a proven failure.
"The House Appropriations Subcommittee overseeing this bill is using abstinence-only funding as a carrot to draw votes when the same thing could have been accomplished without an increase. Even the old Republican Congress flat-funded these programs two years in a row despite Bush's request for increases," said Smith. "How is it then that the Democrats are now delivering up cash directly to the most extreme elements of America's right-wing movement?"Mixed messages about pointless programs
Despite yesterday's disappointing outcome, House Dems have said they plan to let another $50 million in Title V Abstinence funding expire on June 30. Referring to the Title V funds, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) told the Associated Press, "Abstinence-only seems to be a colossal failure."
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs also approved a measure this week that would allow Bush and future presidents to waive the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief abstinence spending requirement.
But House Democrats have more than ample evidence to take a strong stand against abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which over the years have been funded to the tune of $1.5 billion. These programs just don't work— except perhaps to fill the coffers of conservative and faith activist groups.
No study in a professional peer-reviewed journal has found these programs to be broadly effective. In fact, a recent federally-funded report for HHS by Mathematica found no evidence that the programs increased rates of sexual abstinence— their purported purpose!
Thirteen states have evaluated their Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage programs with results ranging from "ineffective" to "harmful."
And a November 2006 report by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) in November 2006 found the programs provide little oversight and can't measure effectiveness.
The Bush administration has proposed a $28 million increase (to $204M/year) for the largest and most-restrictive abstinence-only program.
Congress shouldn't go along with this wasteful request. We need comprehensive sex-ed programs that include age-appropriate medically-accurate information about sex, STDs and HIV/AIDS. Pelosi and Obey should know better.
To view a summary of research on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, please click here
To read the full report from Mathematica, please click here
To view the full GAO report, please visit please click here