Taxpayer Money Funds Failed Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage ProgramsNews, Politics — By Melissa Colon on October 18, 2012 at 1:32 pm Tweet
With elections coming up, and proposed ballots such as Florida’s Amendment 6 under the guise “no tax payer funding for abortion” and “parental consent for abortion”. Both are outrageous claims because there is already laws in effect that do those exact two things. The 1976 Hyde Amendment, limits funding for abortion only to cases of rape, incest or life endangerment. Second, as far as restoring parental rights, Gov. Jeb Bush signed into law in 2005 the Parental Notification Law, which requires a parent or legal guardian to be notified48 hours before the procedure is performed
So, if Florida taxpayers are not funding abortion, then what are we funding to ensure that Florida teens do not have to face the decision of having an abortion, and learn to prevent the transmission of STDs?
According to Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, since 2002, the state of Florida has spent over $64 million of taxpayer money toward abstinence-until-marriage programs that have been proven failures.
In 2008, Congress held the first-ever hearing on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in which leading medical and sexual health experts from across the country testified to the ineffectiveness of the programs.
These programs have been proven to be ineffective at reducing teen pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, and the majority of health professionals called for an end to funding these programs, and instead to shift the money toward comprehensive sexuality education that have been proven to be effective.
Furthermore, abstinence organizations target minority communities, largely located in State’s urban districts with majority African-American, Hispanic, and/or Haitian populations. Such communities are already disproportionately impacted by negative health outcomes such as high rates of STDs, HIV and teen pregnancy.
“These people in these middle schools, high schools – one can’t get access to sex education or contraception at all,” said Alexa Nelen, 22, President of UCF VOX, affiliate of Planned Parenthood, referring to Seminole county being an abstinence-until-marriage county. She continues, “condoms are expensive, and unless you know a place a like Planned Parenthood that distributes condoms for free, then you have no access to contraception- when you have low education to go with that, you don’t know what can prevent a pregnancy or what can prevent spread of STDS, then where are you?”
According to the 2010 Division of Disease Control Data, there is 121,161 cumulative AIDS cases in the state of Florida, and 19 percent of new HIV infections are among persons under the age of 25 (Department of Health). The top counties in 2010 with persons living with aids were Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County, Hillsborough County, and Duval County.
Other reported sexually transmitted diseases in Florida, in 2010 were gonorrhea, Chlamydia, and syphilis among 13 to 19 year olds.
The problem with these programs is that they are based on ideologies, as opposed to scientific fact. The curriculum is narrowly targeted to only heterosexual relationships, which leaves the LGBQT relationships in the dark.
In December 2004, the House of Representatives found the curricula to “misrepresent the effectiveness of condoms, contain false information about the risks of abortion; and present religious views and stereotypes about boys and girls as if they were scientific fact.”
For example, the Human Growth and Development curriculum in Miami- Dade County reinforces gender myths such as males engage in sexual intercourse with girls for sexual pleasure, and females are in pursuit of love. Not only do they reinforce gender myths, but also reinforce myths to preventing an unwanted pregnancy. Lessons regarding contraception are seen within the context of family planning, and teach students about the rhythm method.
In a 2010 report by the Center for Disease Control, it showed that the use of the rhythm method by teenagers to prevent pregnancy rose from 11 percent in 2002 to 17 percent in 2010.
Essentially, the rhythm method requires a female to check her body temperature, cervical mucus, use a calendar and ovulation kit in order to know when she is most fertile, and avoid sexual intercourse at that time. However, during adolescents, a young woman’s menstrual cycle is irregular, therefore making the rhythm method ineffective.
Mississippi has the highest teen pregnancy rate, a state that largely adopts abstinence-only sex education. It is also highest in infant mortality rates, and among the highest rates of Chlamydia and gonorrhea infections among teens and young adults, according to the Mississippi Department of Health.
“I would contest that its ineffective, research shows that investment in character development helps, so I would not negate the factor of trying to change behavior,” said Deborah Shearer, Say Yes On 6 county field director, Director of the Office of Advocacy and Justice for the Catholic Diocese of Orlando. She continues, “There hasn’t been a real sustained effort”.
While character development programs are greatly needed in public schools, programs such as Eti-Keys, an Orlando based non-profit organization that focuses on children and teens, ages seven to 17, by promoting character-building, anti-bullying, leadership and interpersonal skills, finances are the main obstacle to making the program accessible to every school in the state of Florida.
However, despite the benefits of character development programs, comprehensive sex education is just as vital.
In a study conducted by researchers at the Guttmacher Institute, teens that have had access to comprehensive sex education either a) wait longer to have sex or b) more likely to use contraception as opposed to teens who haven’t had access to sexual education.
“It appears that talking with adolescents about sex — before they first have sex — seems to be what is important, regardless of the specific subject matter,” the researchers wrote in the new study published online March 7 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
In a country and culture where sex sells, especially in the porn industry, estimating over $10 billion a year, where even AT&T and GM benefit a big chunk of by providing porn to every home in America, sex is not going away, and putting an age on sex will not prevent teens from becoming sexually active. Without comprehensive sex education, sex becomes an act of trial and error.
According to Advancing Sexuality Education in Developing Countries: Evidence and Implications, a policy review published by Guttmacher Institute, the U.S ranks the highest rate in teen pregnancy in the Western industrialized world. In comparison to many Western European countries where sex among adolescents is generally accepted, comprehensive sexual education is required in all schools, and pregnancy rates are lower. Furthermore supporting the outcome of their recent study that shows teens that received comprehensive sex education, including instruction on birth control, waited longer to have sex, and had lower rates of pregnancy.
The benefit of comprehensive sex education has even been seen in countries such as Estonia. The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization conducted a study to see the health impact and cost effectiveness of school-based sex education in Estonia. According to the study, between 2001 and 2009, after the introduction of sexuality education in Estonia, there were significant improvements in adolescent sexual and reproductive health: Nearly 4,300 unintended pregnancies, 7,200 STIs and 2,000 HIV infections among adolescents aged 15–19 were averted.
As stated by the Healthy Teens Campaign, many of the abstinence-only-until marriage organizations partner with faith-based groups and other community organizations receiving federal abstinence-only-until marriage money. Currently, 33 entities receive federal funds: one private school, three crisis pregnancy centers, five community health clinics or departments, and 24 community-based organizations, including 16 faith-based groups. Many of these groups share funding and curricula resources.
“If you’re saying ‘I’m going to give total funding and $2 million to these ultra bias groups to try and convince you to do something that I agree in as a legislature, rather than giving funding to those places that are medically based and factually based and nonjudgmental that will really help improve your quality of life, then I think it’s a total double standard,” Nelen said.
Crisis pregnancy centers receive funding to shame women by providing anti-abortion propaganda and misinformation. These facilities are not medical facilities, but an extension of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs based on religious ideologies.
Even if a teen decides to carry the pregnancy to full term, republicans recently proposed a bill that would cut $832 million from the Women, Infants and Children program, WIC, a federal program that provides low-income women and children healthcare, food, and assistance. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, these cuts would remove 475,000 people from the program.
Four in 10 poor women of reproductive age have no insurance coverage. According to Guttmacher Institute, in 2008, of the 36 million women in need of contraceptive care, 17.4 million were in need of publicly funded services and supplies because they either had an income below 250 percent of the federal poverty level or were younger than 20.
The ultimate goal across the nation is to suck the country dry of any comprehensive sex education. With constant promises to defund and shut down accessible sexual and reproductive health care providers such as Planned Parenthood, a medical facility that is judgment free where 35 percent of services offered is for STD/STI Testing and treatment, 35 percent contraception, 16 percent for cancer screening and prevention, 10 percent is other women’s health services, and only 3 percent consists of abortion services, where by law, money received from the federal government, cannot be used toward abortion.
Where are we?