Abstinence Education Program Loses Federal Funding After Lawsuit

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 23, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 23, 2005

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A nationally-regarded abstinence education program has lost its funding from the federal Department of Health and Human Services after a pro-abortion law firm filed suit against it. Abortion advocates have complained that the Silver Ring Thing campaign proselytized its Christian views at public schools and they say it distributed inaccurate information.

The Silver Ring Thing campaign relies on music and comedy skits to encourage teenagers to abstain from sexual relations.

"Our review indicates that the (Silver Ring Thing) may not have included adequate safeguards to clearly separate in time or location inherently religious activities from the federally funded activities," Harry Wilson, associate commissioner of the Family and Youth Services Bureau, wrote the group in the letter.

The program, which has held events in dozens of cities across the country, has received grants totally more than $1.2 million from the Department of Health and Human Services as part of President Bush’s abstinence education initiatives.

The abstinence program can continue to receive the funds as soon as it details a plan on how to separate the activities.

Now, the agency has suspended its funding after the ACLU filed a May lawsuit against it and abortion advocates are pleased.

"By suspending federal taxpayer funds to the Silver Ring Thing, the federal government has made a laudatory initial step," said William Smith, vice president for pubic policy for SIECUS. "For far too long, SRT and other programs like it not only have been promoting religion, but also disseminating medical misinformation to our nation’s youth."

The HHS decision doesn’t affect the status of the lawsuit.

Denny Pattyn, founder and president of the abstinence group, said in a statement that the group is faith based but does not use federal dollars to promote religion.

More than 30,000 people have decided to abstain from sex until marriage as a result of the program.

Since 1997, the federal government has spent more than $700 million taxpayer dollars on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. This year an additional $39 million was proposed for fiscal year 2006, which would bring the total federal dollars spent on these programs per year to $206 million.

The lawsuit names HHS officials, and not Silver Ring Thing as the defendant.

Related web sites:
Silver Ring Thing – https://www.silverringthing.com