Apparently, it’s just not enough for this administration to push ineffective and inaccurate abstinence-only education programs for our schoolchildren. Nope–they’re also being emphasized for adults up to the age of 29, as well:
If you’re single and in your 20s, the federal government wants you to steer clear of sex.
That’s the new guidance for states under the Department of Health and Human Services’ $50 million Abstinence Education Program. HHS officials say it’s not a requirement — just another option for states to combat what they call an alarming rise in out-of-wedlock births.
(More after the jump…)
A record 1.5 million babies were born to single mothers in 2004, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. More than half of them were born to women in their early 20s.
Now, I’m certainly not advocating for more out-of-wedlock births to relatively young mothers. There are some legitimate reasons to be concerned about this trend (you can find more data on the numbers of out-of-wedlock births and their rates over the last 25 years here; see figure 2). But studies looking at abstinence-based programs in adolescents have shown that they simply don’t work, as far as delaying sexual activity, or preventing pregnancies or acquisition of sexually transmitted diseases. (Indeed, in some studies the abstinence-only groups had higher rates of pregnancy and STDs). If this education doesn’t work in teenagers, who in their right mind things it will work with someone in their 20s?
Wagoner’s group, Advocates for Youth, argues that it’s futile to try to sell 20-somethings on chastity. He says birth control is a smarter way to prevent pregnancies.
“This is a clear signal that they’re using these resources — taxpayer dollars — to promote an ideological agenda,” Wagoner says. “It has nothing to do with public health.”
But HHS officials say the guidelines are not new, that department’s Administration for Children and Families “merely informed States of the flexibility permitted under Federal law.”
“The government’s clarification published in August is not a mandate,” the Administration for Children and Families said in a statement prepared in response to ABC News questions. “We are unclear why Advocates for Youth suddenly believes (after two months) that States should be denied the flexibility to provide young adults with the truth that abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way of avoiding unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.”
Man, this is some world-class spinnin’. Of course, no one wants to deny states the “flexibility to provide young adults with the truth” about abstinence. But let’s be a bit pragmatic here. All of these programs cost money. We–taxpayers–fund them. Now, which is going to get a larger bang for the buck–extolling the benefits of abstinence to a 28-year-old, or educating them about–and providing them with–condoms, birth control, testing, etc.?