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Study Proves Abstinence-Only Programs Are Ineffective

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Published: 11.12.07| Updated: 11.12.07

Boise, ID — Planned Parenthood of Idaho (PPI) President and CEO Rebecca Poedy praised a report released this month by Douglas Kirby, Ph.D., and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy definitively showing that abstinence-only sex-ed programs are ineffective. PPI called on Idaho’s Congressional delegation to stop funding abstinence-only programs that do nothing to help teens prevent unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.

“As the mother of a teenage girl, I want my child to be taught about abstinence, but I also know that that’s not enough,” said Poedy. “Teens look to us for information about preventing disease and unintended pregnancy, yet our government spends $1 billion on abstinence-only programs to teach our teens that condoms don’t work. Is it any surprise that nearly four million teens develop sexually transmitted infections each year, when we don’t equip them with even the most basic information about how to protect themselves?”

Americans overwhelmingly support teaching comprehensive sex education rather than abstinence-only in schools. A recent Hart Research poll showed 76 percent of voters —and a majority of Democrats, Republicans, those in red states and blue states — want comprehensive sex education for their teens.

“We ask our teens to be responsible, but then we take away the tools they need to make responsible decisions about their sexual health. It's time for Congress to stop wasting money and start putting teens and parents first by funding comprehensive sex education programs that include messages about both prevention and abstinence,” Poedy continued.

The report, titled Emerging Answers 2007, is the third in a series on sex education curricula from Kirby. He is also the author of No Easy Answers and Emerging Answers.

A December 2004 report released by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) examined the accuracy of the most popular curricula used by federally funded abstinence-only programs, and found more than two-thirds of these programs distort information and mislead young people by giving them false information about contraception, particularly about the effectiveness of condoms. Using information garnered from that Congressional investigation, PPI and the ACLU of Idaho conducted a 2006 survey of Idaho schools’ sexual health education curriculum. The joint investigation revealed that three Idaho school districts utilize curriculum and text books that contain medically and scientifically inaccurate information pertaining to reproductive health.

Last week, Colorado became the 13th state to reject Bush administration funding for abstinence-only programs.

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Planned Parenthood of Idaho, Inc (PPI) is a private, non-profit organization that works to ensure access to high quality, affordable reproductive and gynecological health care through direct medical service, education, and advocacy. Service fees are determined on a sliding scale based on need. PPI accepts Medicaid and most major health insurance.

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