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No boinking for you: government abstinence ed for adults

“They’ve stepped over the line of common sense. To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It’s an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health.”
— James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education

It didn’t take long for the trickle-down fundie policy to be put into place in Bushland — no nookie for you 19- to 29-year-olds, says the Department of Health and Human Services, which recently revised its abstinence-only programs. (USA Today):

[T]he government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.

…Abstinence education programs, which have focused on preteens and teens, teach that abstaining from sex is the only effective or acceptable method to prevent pregnancy or disease. They give no instruction on birth control or safe sex. The National Center for Health Statistics says well over 90% of adults ages 20-29 have had sexual intercourse.

But Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the revision is aimed at 19- to 29-year-olds because more unmarried women in that age group are having children.

…Sarah Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, says abstinence programs are among many messages that have helped reduce teen pregnancy rates. But “the notion that the federal government is supporting millions of dollars worth of messages to people who are grown adults about how to conduct their sex life is a very divisive policy,” she says.

“We would oppose any program that stigmatizes unmarried people,” adds Nicky Grist, executive director of the Alternatives to Marriage Project, a non-profit organization based in Brooklyn, N.Y., that advocates for the rights of unmarried people.

We shouldn’t be surprised at this of course. Government mouthpiece Horn, btw, turned up in a post in June 2005, claiming that it was a bad idea to teach about contraception or make it available to teenages that aren’t sexually active.


…counseling only abstinence, preferably until marriage, is the best approach because it sends a clear, consistent message. Teenagers who are sexually active should have access to contraception, but making birth control available to teens who aren’t sends a contradictory message, he said. The academy’s recommendations “to some extent confuse prevention and intervention,” Horn said.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding