by Steven Ertelt
January 30, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Just one week after First Lady touted abstinence education initiatives as the best method to combat the AIDS crisis in Africa, more information is coming in showing its success. Meanwhile, President Bush is putting out the call to pro-life groups to use federal grants to help out.
President Bush’s $15 billion AIDS program focuses on teaching abstinence and fidelity in marriage and nearly 25 percent of the funding for groups involved is going to Christian groups that typically oppose abortion.
Still, the president wants more such groups involved in the efforts, which are helping people in 15 countries mostly located in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to an AP report, the Bush administration is reserving $200 million for groups who have little or no experience receiving government grants, with the hopes of getting new groups involved in the process.
Any program funded by the Bush administration that distributes condoms must also include the abstinence message.
Rev. Sam Lawrence Ruteikara of the Anglican Church of Uganda, who has received funds from the U.S. government, says the abstinence message makes more sense to promote to younger teens than using condoms.
"Why give an alternative and have them take a risk," he told the Associated Press.
"This person doesn’t have a sexual partner, so why should I report too much, saying that in case you get a sexual partner, please use a condom. I am saying, please don’t get a sexual partner — don’t get involved because it is risky," he explained.
The focus on abstinence has paid dividends where it has been used extensively, such as in Uganda, where the rates of AIDS have gone down by half during the last decade.
Meanwhile, Rep. Chris Smith, a pro-life New Jersey congressman, told AP he saw the firsthand results of the abstinence message when he toured Uganda in January.
He said he saw abstinence rallies and volunteers conducting door to door campaigns to help people.
"The good news about the faith-based groups is not only the passion they bring to the work, but it is the moral authority and the extended numbers of volunteers they can mobilize to get the word out," Smith said.
Smith wants to make sure, however, that abstinence education money goes to groups that don’t back abortions.