As Attacks on Planned Parenthood Aim for Sex-Ed Funding, Let's Remember How Bad Religious-Backed Abstinence Only Programs Are
It is being reported that Live Action’s Lila Rose is planning the next step in her ongoing effort to defund Planned Parenthood: take away its sex-ed money. Rose is lamenting the fact that Planned Parenthood got federal money to implement evidence-based comprehensive sex education via PREP funding (Personal Responsibility Education Program).
In preparation for what may eventually be another Lila Rose grainy expose trumpeted by the Right, it’s helpful to brush up on where millions of tax dollars are going to pay for sex “education” -- ineffective and stigmatizing abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
Study after study has revealed the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only programs in reducing the number of teen pregnancies and reducing the spread of disease. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, virginity pledges, a staple of abstinence-only programming, not only did not decrease occurrences of teen STDs, but actually resulted in pledge-takers not seeking medical attention once infected, leading to an increased possibility of transmission.
Abstinence-only programs come under fire for questionable instructional methods and curricula as well. The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) periodically releases in-depth reviews of abstinence-only programs and regularly finds they often rely on messages of fear and shame to encourage abstinence and promote biased views of gender, marriage and pregnancy options.
Yet Americans have spent more than $1.5 billion on abstinence-only programs over the past 15 years through Title V of the Social Security Act and other federal legislation. The programs flourished under President George W. Bush, who created an injection of funding with his Community Based Abstinence Education grants. President Barack Obama did away with this funding stream, but during the fight in Congress over health-care reform, Republicans put $250 million for abstinence-only programs into the Affordable Healthcare Act.
I have covered two abstinence-only groups in the past year: Project SOS in Florida and WAIT (Why Am I Tempted?) Training, now known as the Center for Relationship Education, based in Denver. I investigated their methods, connections and over $14 million combined in federal and state grants.
Project SOS has received over $6.5 million in federal money since 2002, but the group decided not to apply for funding this year. SOS had ties with the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda through one of its most vocal advocates, Pastor Martin Ssempa. The group’s founder, Pam Mullarkey, was an ardent supporter of Ssempa quoted on his website as saying, “Martin Ssempa is the man to watch. He’s the most powerful voice for abstinence in the world and his passion, charisma and character make his vital message irresistible.” Mullarkey says God described Project SOS in its entirety to her over the course of five evenings. And, like so many other ab-only programs, SOS was cited for peddling erroneous medical information in its curriculum and relying on shame and fear as means of instruction.
WAIT/CRE has gotten over $8 million in federal funds and just this year was part of an end-run around former Colorado Governor Ritter -- who rejected Title V in favor of PREP -- to obtain an additional $233,000 a year for the next three years.
During an assembly in a Colorado high school, Shelley Donahue, one of WAIT/CRE’s motivational speakers told her audience that girls' brains are like spaghetti, boys' brains are like waffles…boys tuck schoolbooks under their arms at the waist, girls cradle theirs like babies...boys are made to pursue girls and girls are made to wait to be pursued by boys...we have an entire generation of girls looking for daddy love...you just have to get that viable sperm close to her vagina and she turns on the little Hoover vacuum, because girls are very, very fertile.