by Steven Ertelt
December 21, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Advocates of abstinence education are criticizing the results of a new study of sexual habits conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute. The report, based on interviews with 38,000 people in a government study, claims that about 95 percent of Americans engage in premarital sex.
The institute is affiliated with Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business and a frequent critic of abstinence education programs.
Lawrence Finer, a Guttmacher research director who headed the study, called it "reality-check research" in an interview with the Associated Press.
"Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades," he said.
Finer said that the results of the study show the federal government shouldn’t be funding abstinence education programs.
"It would be more effective to provide young people with the skills and information they need to be safe once they become sexually active — which nearly everyone eventually will," he said.
But Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defended such programs.
"One of its values is to help young people delay the onset of sexual activity," he told AP. "The longer one delays, the fewer lifetime sex partners they have, and the less the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease."
But Dr. Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America says she thinks the numbers are inflated and don’t accurately view the choices many teenagers and young adults are making to wait to have sex until marriage.
"My eyebrows went up when I first saw the numbers," she told AgapePress, "and I thought that the results were a bit too pat because they fit so specifically into the agenda of Planned Parenthood and the Guttmacher Institute."
"They are so extreme," she contends, "I think you’d have to have another study done to replicate those results before I would buy into them."
The Guttmacher report seems to contradict other studies such as one conducted by a University of Pennsylvania researcher in August that found teaching abstinence education to young teenagers in public schools reduces their sexual behavior. The study found that abstinence helped delay the starting point at which teenagers begin having sexual relations.
The Penn researchers studied 662 African-American students in 6th and 7th grade from inner-city schools in Philadelphia.
They found that those who were taught abstinence were less likely to have had sexual relations in a 24 month followup compared to those who were taught about safer sex through the use of condoms but didn’t mention abstinence.
Meanwhile, 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.
Polls also show that Americans strongly back abstinence education programs.
A January 2004 Zogby International poll showed that, out of the 1,004 parents surveyed across the nation, 96 percent said abstinence is best for teens.
Only 39.9 percent thought that abstinence and contraception should be combined in a single class.