|Failed Abstinence-Only Programs Eliminated in 2010 Budget|
Obama Brings Science and Evidence Back to Public Health Policy
Statement of James Wagoner, President of Advocates for Youth
The Obama administration deserves praise for bringing science and evidence back to public health policy and jettisoning the ideological earmark known as abstinence-only. Now the ball is clearly in the court of the Democrats in Congress—most notably Speaker Pelosi and House Appropriations Chairman Obey (D-WI). The President has made it clear that he wants no more congressional funding for failed abstinence-only programs.
President Obama’s budget also provides $173 million for new pregnancy prevention programs. Unfortunately, by failing to provide funding for comprehensive sex education programs, the President missed an opportunity to address young people’s health in a holistic way. Rather than the more narrow pregnancy prevention framework contained in the budget, comprehensive sex education provides tools for young people that help them avoid HIV and STD’s as well as pregnancy and develop positive sexual health behaviors. We must address the decade of denial and disinformation under abstinence-only-until-marriage programs by targeting a significant part of our effort on schools—where the vast majority of young people gather every day. Many school districts will continue their abstinence-only policies even with the termination of federal funding for these failed programs, and we should be providing incentives for these schools to switch to evidence-based programs.
We look forward to building on the President’s budget with Congress as we take the next step in the policy process. We are counting on the Democratic leadership to eliminate failed abstinence-only programs; ensure that there is no “back door” route for these programs to receive funding under the Obama plan; and broaden the focus of these important efforts to include comprehensive sex education that addresses not only teen pregnancy but also the prevention of HIV, STD’s, and the promotion of sexual health.
Advocates for Youth is a national, nonprofit organization that creates programs and supports policies that help young people make safe, responsible decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.