Centers for Disease Control Caught Excluding Abstinence Speakers at Forum

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 9, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Centers for Disease Control Caught Excluding Abstinence Speakers at Forum

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 9, 2006

Washington, DC ( — It’s often said that federal agencies have a mind of their own regardless of who sits in the White House. That appears to be the case with the Centers for Disease Control, which a Congressman recently caught excluding pro-abstinence speakers from a conference — even though President Bush has increased federal funding for abstinence to record levels.

The CDC had not invited any speakers who favor teaching students about abstinence to a conference on preventing sexually transmitted diseases until a Congressman caught the agency in the act.

After visiting the CDC web site, pro-life Rep. Mark Souder, an Indiana Republican, found the slight.

“We looked at the topics that they were addressing and just thought that it seemed completely unbalanced," Marc Wheat, a Souder staff member, told Family News in Focus.

Wheat, who is the staff director for the Drug Policy Subcommittee, where Souder is the chairman, told FNIF that past problems with the Health and Human Services Department prompted a set of guidelines on inviting speakers to forums.

Those guidelines are being ignored, he explained.

“These are career, liberal staff that cannot be dynamited out of their jobs," Wheat told FNIF. "They cannot be fired for almost any action. And so it’s very difficult to monitor what they do.”

Sounder started a flurry of emails and was only successful in getting one abstinence advocating invited to the entire four day conference — Dr. Patricia Sulak, an OBGYN.

“I don’t know what to expect from the panel, but I’m hoping from the audience we can make an impact," Wheat told FNIF. "We need to give kids a clear and concise message that you need to wait to have sex.”

A January Harris Poll found 49 percent of 18 to 24 year-olds and 60 percent of 25 to 29 year-olds say abstinence education programs are effective in reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies.

Other polls have found much stronger support for abstinence education.

An August 2005 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for The People & The Press found 76 percent of those polled favored teaching abstinence education in schools while just 20 percent opposed.