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New Report Finds Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Programs Offer False, Misleading Information

December 3, 2004

A December 2 report from Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) shows that the most popular federally-funded abstinence-only sex education curricula contain pervasive errors and misinformation on a wide range of important sexual and reproductive health issues, including:

  • grossly underestimating the effectiveness of condoms and other contraceptives in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs);
  • making false claims about the physical and psychological risks of abortion;
  • offering misinformation on the incidence and transmission of STIs;
  • replacing scientific facts with religious views and moral judgments; and
  • distorting medical evidence and basic scientific facts.

The report examined school-based sex education curricula used by programs funded under Special Projects of Regional and National Significance Community-Based Abstinence Education (SPRANS), the fastest-growing source of federally funded abstinence education. Since 1996, nearly $1 billion in state and federal funding, under three funding streams, has been spent on abstinence-only education that denies young people information about contraception beyond failure rates. Another $170 million in federal funds is slated for FY 2005, despite a lack of evidence supporting the effectiveness of this approach.

The United States continues to have one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the developed world, and roughly nine million new STIs occur among teenagers and young adults in the United States each year. By promoting abstinence-only education that omits complete, medically accurate information, U.S. policy ignores research, public opinion and the experience of other countries about what actually works to prevent teenage pregnancy and STIs.

For the full Waxman report, click here.

For information about abstinence as a pregnancy and disease prevention method click here.

For more information about funding for abstinence-only education programs and teen family planning services click here.

Click here for the views of politicians, parents, teachers and teens on sex education.

 

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