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Study Proves Abstinence-Only Programs Are Ineffective

Washington, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) President Cecile Richards praised a report released today by Douglas Kirby, Ph.D., and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy definitively showing that abstinence-only programs are ineffective.  Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest network of sex education providers, called on Congress to stop funding abstinence-only programs that do nothing to help teens prevent unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.

“As the mother of two teenagers, I want my kids to be taught about abstinence, but I also know that that’s not enough,” said Richards. “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,” Richards 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.

Last week, Colorado became the 13th state to reject federal funding for abstinence-only programs. Governors across America, from Montana to Massachusetts, have rejected Bush administration funding for abstinence-only programs, citing them as harmful and misleading.


Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433


November 07, 2007


April 02, 2014