While slashing funding for local schools, food stamps and health care for veterans, President Bush’s FY 2006 budget would increase spending on abstinence-only-unless-married education programs by $39 million, bringing the total request for these programs to $206 million in federal funds. The president suggested in his State of the Union address that to sustain economic prosperity, taxpayers’ dollars must be spent wisely or not at all. He has proposed a budget that he says reduces or eliminates government programs that are not getting results. Yet this same budget would increase funding for abstinence-only programs that prohibit discussion of contraception except in the context of failure rates, despite a growing body of evidence that these programs do not protect young people from unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.
Helping youth avoid these problems will require a more realistic approach to sex education. The evidence shows that the majority of teens become sexually active by age 18. Limiting access to complete and medically accurate information about how teens can protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and disease will not stop young people from having sex. It will only put them at increased risk.
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