Friday, May 04, 2012

Obama administration backs abstinence-only sex ed?

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Abstinence Until Marriage /

I’m not often disappointed by President Obama anymore (my attitude being one of resignation at this point), but this is a case where his administration appears to be going back on one of the things they got right the first time:

Thought "abstinence only" education was a thing of the past, at least at the national level? Looks like it's still part of the officially sanctioned curriculum from the US Department of Health and Human Services for teen pregnancy prevention.

The HHS Office of Adolescent Health lists the Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education as one of the 31 "evidence-based programs" that "met the effectiveness criteria" for preventing teenage pregnancy. RH Reality Check flagged its inclusion on Tuesday, noting that the program was quietly added to the list sometime in April. The program is based in South Carolina and focuses on schools in the state.


The RH Reality Check piece notes that an August 2007 report on the Heritage program prepared for HHS found that it "had little or no impact on sexual abstinence or activity." So it's not exactly clear why it's on a list of "evidence-based programs" that "met the effectiveness criteria" for HHS.

As galling as it is to see such obvious nonsense be given the label of “evidence-based”, much less federal support, it’s particularly troubling because one of President Obama’s earlier moves was to defund a variety of abstinence-only programs and increase support for reality-based sex education with an actual record for helping prevent underage pregnancy. It’s always possible that this is the result of a mere oversight or some other mistake; social issues and proper science are one area where the President has generally done a pretty decent job so far (at least, when he isn’t caving in to Republicans). But this is nonetheless a stark reminder of the constant need for vigilance.

(via Dispatches from the Culture Wars)