Yesterday, despite overwhelming scientific evidence that Bush's baby -- the abstinence-only-until-marriage programs -- do NOT work, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations opted to not decrease funding for this far right, religious-driven initiative, but to increase funding for Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) grants.
The killer: the Democrats were the ones who made it happen, a mere two weeks after Congressional leaders announced that they were going to let Title V, Section 510 abstinence-only-education funding die without reauthorization. Prior to this painful backstab, the Dems had given us the impression that these medically inaccurate programs, full of "false, misleading, or distorted information" -- as confirmed in Representative Henry A. Waxman's "The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Education Programs" report -- would be cut or eliminated by our new Congress. Instead, we're faced with an additional $27.8 million for this reprehensible approach to human sexuality education, not only hailing the failing White House Chief's delusional efforts, but providing a whopping tax dollar waste of $141 million to CBAE.
Quite frankly, after a week of Democratic debates, full of promises of a world too good to be true, we're suffering from whiplash over the fact that the party decided to pull a two-face simply to swing enough Republican votes to make the current spending bill veto-proof. We're disgusted and appalled that our Democratic leaders are shamefully willing to put the lives and sexual health of our young people at risk for a little bit of political back scratching -- and to the extreme right-wing movement no less. Making this blow even harder to swallow -- the previous Republican Congress flat funded these ineffective programs for the last two years, despite our anti-sex President's request for increases for this religious offering.
Regardless of political party, when are our country's leaders going to get that numerous studies have found abstinence-only programs not only a waste of our taxpayer dollars, but moot in their efforts -- to keep us "virginal" 'til our wedding nights? When are they going to intelligently accept and apply the knowledge the rest of the country seems to comprehend: that the evidence shows that students who are subject to such ill-founded approaches to sex education ultimately have a similar number of sexual partners as their peers, a similar age of first sex, and end up less likely to use protection and engage in risky sexual behavior when sexually active, especially if they've taken one of those virginity pledges? If that doesn't alarm you enough, consider that the now approved bill fails to fully fund HIV prevention, Title X family planning, and Minority AIDS Initiative. Understandably, that has caused great alarm amongst many prominent organizations involved in sex education and sexual health efforts, including the Sexuality and Information Council of the United States, the American Medical Student Association, Advocates for Youth, and the Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists. They -- as well as many Americans -- are panicked over the fact that recent reports by groups like the Society for Adolescent Medicine have determined that abstinence-only programs threaten our "fundamental human rights to health, information, and life." So how could this happen?
If you can do something truly important today, something to have your children thanking you tomorrow or 15 years from now -- contact your representative and raise hell on this matter. Better yet, contact Speaker Pelosi and Representative David Obey to let them know that Democratic (or any party for that matter) support of increased funding for abstinence-only-until marriage programs are unconscionable, irresponsible, and a disservice to our youth. Let them know you're appalled at Obey for brokering this "deal." Publicly shame Congresswoman Nita Lowey, as we are now, for agreeing to this, and let your own reps know that this is an issue that will not be ignored in 2008. We don't want leaders that cower in standing firm on prevention-first strategies to protecting our health and well being. We don't want leaders who are willing to slap the public's desire -- support for comprehensive programs -- in the face, selling out to programs that will fund efforts to make us "pure" and "abstinent" -- and ultimately worse off -- until the age of 29! We don't want leaders who are willing to put our health and lives at risk for an "inside-the-beltway" deal breaker that will make the Democrats amongst the biggest funders of the ultra-conservative network that wants to tell us what we should do in our bedrooms, with whom, and when.
Take action now!!
-Call Speaker Nancy Pelosi at 202.225.4965 and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Call the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Representative David Obey, at 202.225.2771.
Let them know that you want NO MORE MONEY for these abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, and that anything else is unacceptable.
Then get together with your local PTA, religious leaders (that's right, some are much more liberal and accepting of the research than your representatives), youth organizations, and other educational community outlets to figure out how you can best educate your local youth on sexuality matters in spite of such funding. As with so much in this country, you can only depend on you -- and not your government -- to look out for your best interests.