Monday, February 16, 2009

Letter to the Editor - Abstinence Funding

The following letter to the editor was recently published in the Honolulu Star Bulletin:
Letters to the Editor
For Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Abstinence-only needs more consideration

Our Legislature is hearing bills to defund the optional abstinence-only programs offered in schools. These would-be censors offered testimony packed with misinformation.

For example, an oft-cited Johns Hopkins report compared abstinence pledgers to nonpledgers. The researcher neglected to mention that the pledge-takers abstained from sex four years longer than the control group: age 21 versus 17 for nonpledgers.

Dr. Stan Weed, a leading researcher on youth behavior, examined more than 100 different abstinence programs, collecting data from nearly 500,000 adolescents and interviewing more than 2,000 teens. He testified before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that abstinence education can cut in half the rates of teen sexual activity, and that abstinence education classes do not deter sexually active teens from using condoms. His conclusion: "When measured using comparable criteria, comprehensive sexuality education strategies (risk reduction) show little evidence for success at achieving the crucial outcomes of consistent condom use, reduced pregnancy, and STD rates."

The Department of Health testified that abstinence-only audiences have access to other state-funded programs for comprehensive sex education. Why are these bills being pushed?

Carol R. White
Board member
Hawaii Right to Life

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