By Rori Black
Today, May 2, is Prevent Teen Pregnancy Day; a good day to remember that abstinence-only education is a miserable failure. One billion taxpayer dollars have been given to a program that does not make teens more likely to abstain from sex or delay when they become sexually active.
Impacts for Title V. Section 510, Abstinence Education Programs: Final Report (pdf), released in April, was posted on a Government web-site with no press release or advisory, James Wagoner said: â€œThe â€˜stealth releaseâ€™ of this study on an obscure government website on a Friday afternoon is clearly meant to bury its contents..”
â€œAfter 10 years and $1.5 billion in public funds these failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs will go down as an ideological boondoggle of historic proportions,â€
The facts about teen pregnancy don’t lie:
- The United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the Western industrialized world.
- One out of every three young women in America becomes pregnant before she reaches the age of 20.
- Each year, 750,000 young women become pregnant.
- Eight out of 10 of these pregnancies are unintended and nearly one-third end in abortion.
If the goal was to improve “morality” and reduce abortions, not only has the project failed miserably, but â€œ[t]he tragedy is not simply the waste of taxpayer dollars, it is the damage done to the young people who have been on the receiving end of distorted, inaccurate information about condoms and birth control. We have been promoting ignorance in the era of AIDS, and thatâ€™s not just bad public health policy, its bad ethicsâ€.
Waggoner continues, â€œCongress must now move to de-fund these programs. Anything short of eliminating these programs would be a dereliction of its duty to promote public health and protect young people in the era of AIDSâ€.
And they have. Sen. Robert Menendez and Rep. Steve Rothman (both D-NJ) have reintroduced the Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Responsibility, and Opportunity Act to help schools and community groups set up programs that encourage teens to delay sexual activity and help parents communicate with their children about sex. NARAL is asking people to contact their congresscritters and encourage them to co-sponsor the bill.
On this, the National Prevent Teen Pregnancy Day, I ask that we help create real programs that work in the real world, empowering teens with the information they need to make responsible and healthy choices.