Washington, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America today applauded Sen.
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) for protecting the health of teens with the introduction of the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act. The REAL Act authorizes federal funding for comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education to give young people information about how to prevent pregnancy, protect their health and make responsible decisions.
“We applaud Sen. Lautenberg and Rep. Lee for their commitment to ensuring America’s teens have the information they need to keep them healthy and safe,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Abstinence-only education has failed our young people. Our country has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies among the most developed countries in the world, an alarming number of teenage girls — at least one in four — has a sexually transmitted infection, and an estimated 750,000 teenagers will become pregnant this year. The REAL Act is commonsense legislation that will help our young people prevent unintended pregnancy, protect their health and make responsible decisions."
The REAL Act will create a grant program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services that would fund comprehensive sex education programs in schools nationwide. Currently, no federal program is dedicated to supporting comprehensive sex education, while failed abstinence-only programs under the Bush administration received $1.5 billion in federal funding.
A study conducted by the University of Washington found that teens who had comprehensive sex education were 50 percent less likely to become pregnant than teens who had no sex education or who were in abstinence-only programs.
Numerous studies have analyzed abstinence-only programs and found them to be ineffective.
A congressionally funded study by Mathematica showed that abstinence-only programs do not keep teenagers from having sex. A study by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports that two-thirds of the examined sex education programs that focus on both abstinence and contraception had a positive effect on teen sexual behavior. And a 2008 Guttmacher report found that most abstinence programs did not delay initiation of sexual activity.
There is a health care crisis in this country: A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study reports at least one in four teenage girls — ages 14 to 19 — has a sexually transmitted infection; The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reports the U.S. has the highest rates of teen pregnancy among comparable countries, and an estimated 750,000 teenagers will become pregnant this year.
President Barack Obama has consistently supported comprehensive and age-appropriate sex education. As a senator, President Obama was an original co-sponsor of the Prevention First Act, which would ensure that all taxpayer-funded federal programs are medically accurate and include information about contraception.
Planned Parenthood affiliate educators nationwide reach more than 1.2 million young people and adults with medically accurate sex education each year. As a health care provider, Planned Parenthood knows firsthand the power of education to help teens make responsible decisions about their health. Every year we provide five million women, men, and teens worldwide with the health information and services they need to prevent unintended pregnancy and protect their health.
March 17, 2009