by Steven Ertelt
June 12, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A House subcommittee has approved a spending bill which calls on increasing federal funding for abstinence education by $11 million in fiscal year 2006. Abstinence-only education has come under increasing debate as abortion advocates seek to reduce state and national support for such programs.
Last week, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies approved the increase, which is smaller than the $39 million increase President Bush requested.
In a statement, the Christian Coalition applauded the vote, but said funding for contraception-based programs is still too high.
"Failed contraceptive sex education programs receive 12 dollars for every dollar abstinence receives," the pro-life groups said. "It is long past time that there is parity between the two programs."
In the Senate, abortion proponents, led by Montana Sen. Max Baucus, are seeking to redefine the kind of programs that qualify for abstinence funding to switch funds from abstinence-only programs to those that also teach using contraception.
Backers of abstinence education programs say that is a wrongheaded approach because the abstinence initiatives work.
A new study of teenagers who took part in a sexual abstinence campaign found they were significantly less likely to have sex or use alcohol, drugs, or tobacco than their peers. The groundbreaking study of junior high and middle school aged-girls appeared in the recent issue of the journal "Adolescent & Family Health."
Robert Lerner, Ph.D., authored the study of the popular Best Friends abstinence program currently operating in more than 100 schools across the United States.
The research showed girls in the Best Friends program were six and a half times less likely to have sex, about two times less likely to drink alcohol, eight times less likely to use drugs, and more than two times less likely to smoke, compared to their peers.
Bush’s FY 2006 budget increases abstinence-only education funding by $39 million over the 2005 version of his spending plan, moving it up by 25 percent. The budget notes that additional increases will be sought and reach a total of $270 million by 2008.
In his State of the Union address last year, Bush said he wanted the extra funding "so schools can teach this fact of life: Abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases."
An April 2004 study published in Adolescent and Family Health found that abstinence was the major cause of declining birth and pregnancy rates among teen girls. It attributes 53 percent of the decline in pregnancy rates for 15-17 year olds to decreased
sexual activity — larger than the decline from contraception.