December 18, 2009
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Today marks an historic new investment in the efforts to prevent teen pregnancy. President Obama is signing a bill that will offer more than $100 million in new competitive grants for what are called 'evidence-based' teen pregnancy prevention programs - and it's a major shift away from federal funding of abstinence-until-marriage sex education.
Susan Yolen, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, says studies have shown that a combination of information is the best education.
"Comprehensive sex education is medically accurate and age-appropriate. That kind of education does, in fact, include abstinence messages."
Abstinence-only supporters question whether the abstinence message can be effective when contraception and disease prevention are being discussed at the same time.
Yolen says abstinence-until-marriage education ignores the reality that more than half of teens are sexually active before they graduate from high school, and ignores the reality that many adults are marrying later in life.
"When they do change their mind, they are not prepared with the information they need to protect themselves against STDs and pregnancy."
The funds will be overseen by the newly-established Office of Adolescent Health within the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.