Congress Backs Bush Request to Fund Abstinence Education at Record Level

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 10, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Congress Backs Bush Request to Fund Abstinence Education at Record Level Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 10, 2004

Washington, DC ( — Members of the House of Representatives on Friday voted to approve a request by President Bush to fund abstinence education at record levels. The move drew complaints from abortion advocates who say the sex education method is unproven and ineffective.

The House passed H.R. 5006 on Friday, a bill to fund the departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. The bill includes more than $105 million for competitive grants for abstinence education.

That’s a significant increase over the $70 million that was approved in the fiscal year 2004 version of the bill.

The total funding for abstinence programs under the bill rises to $173 million, another record level, with the rest of the funds sent to states in block grants for public abstinence education programs.

But a leading abortion advocacy group isn’t happy about the news.

"President Bush and his friends in Congress continue their drive to test at any cost the theory that ignorance is bliss. But as in so many other areas, their refusal to accept reality will have disastrous consequences," NARAL interim president Elizabeth Cavendish said.

Cavendish complained that program funded by the abstinence grants will only teach about abstaining from sex, rather than including information about contraception and birth control.

In a statement following the vote, NARAL claimed abstinence-only programs "have never proven effective and may actually result in riskier behavior by teenagers."

However, a new study by the Heritage Foundation tracked teenagers over four years and compared teens who took an abstinence pledge with those who didn’t.

The study found, after three separate analysis spaced years apart, that pledgers were one-third less likely than non-pledgers to have sex before the age of 18.

The Heritage study also revealed that teens who kept their pledge to abstain from sexual relations were 50% less likely to have out-of-wedlock births than non-pledgers and were not more likely to have or gain a sexually transmitted disease.

The Labor-HHS bill also changes the agency that will administer the abstinence grants, which first began during 2001 — the first year of the Bush administration. Once the Senate agrees to the bill, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) will become the governing agency for the abstinence grants.

According to the Abstinence Clearinghouse, the "grants are designed to fund programs that target 12-18 year olds with the message of abstinence until marriage. The programs must follow the eight-point definition for abstinence education, which was legislated in the 1996 welfare reform legislation."

Related web sites:
Abstinence Clearinghouse —