by Steven Ertelt
July 25, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Members of the Senate voted 51-48 against an amendment to a bill that would uphold parental involvement laws on abortion. Opposed by pro-life groups and lawmakers, the amendment would promote teaching teenagers about birth control in an attempt to lower the number of teen pregnancies.
Sponsored by pro-abortion Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a New Jersey Democrat, the amendment would force taxpayers to fund sexual education programs. Pro-life lawmakers regarded it as an attempt to weaken support for the bill and said it would counter abstinence education efforts that are helping teenagers.
Lautenberg said the bill, if passed without the amendment, "would prove that this exercise is only a political charade and not a serious effort to reduce abortions.”
But pro-life Sen. John Ensign, who is sponsoring the Child Custody Protection Act, said the amendment authorized grants to local community programs but the grants force the programs to teach only sexual education and not abstinence.
The programs would also be required to discuss the Plan B morning after pill, which may cause an abortion on occasion, Ensign said.
Ensign also said that the Lautenberg amendment would promote "teen-driven" sex education programs, which may very well send the wrong message to teenagers about the kind of decisions they should make.
Before the vote, pro-life groups indicated they opposed the amendment.
"We firmly oppose adoption of this amendment because it promotes a mixed message to students regarding healthy and safe decisions about sex," Lanier Swann, director of government relations for Concerned Women for America, said.
The amendment "undermines the strength of yet another issue so vitally important in the campaign to protect young women: authentic abstinence education," Swann explained.
"Encouraging teens to delay sexual activity while providing condoms is a failed strategy that fiercely undermines authentic abstinence until marriage education," Swann added.
A June 2005 study by the US Department of Health and Human Services reveals that abstinence education works.
According to the interim report, teens who participated in abstinence programs had an increased awareness of the potential consequences of sexual activity before marriage, thought more highly of abstinent behaviors, and less favorable opinions about sexual activity before marriage than did students who were not in abstinence programs.
"Students who are in these [abstinence education] programs are recognizing that abstinence is a positive choice," HHS Assistant Secretary Michael O’Grady said.
"Abstinence education programs that help our young people address issues of healthy relationships, self-esteem, decision-making, and effective communications are important to keeping them healthy and safe," O’Grady added.
A January 2004 Zogby International poll shows parents overwhelmingly support abstinence education for teenagers.
Out of the 1,004 parents surveyed across the nation, 96 percent said abstinence is best for teens. The vast majority of American parents want their children’s sex education classes to emphasize abstinence until marriage, according to poll, which was commissioned by Focus on the Family.
Only 39.9 percent thought that abstinence and contraception should be combined in a single class.