Why Does Federal Money Flow to Conservative Groups That Terrify Kids About Sexuality?
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According to the American Cancer Society, “At this time, the scientific evidence does not support the notion that abortion of any kind raises the risk of breast cancer or any other type of cancer.”
Both Full Circle Women’s Services and the Women’s Care Center are affiliated with Care Net, a national network of crisis pregnancy centers that prohibits its members from recommending, offering, or referring “single women” for contraception.
Whereas proponents of comprehensive sex education encourage teaching teens how to protect themselves against unplanned pregnancy and diseases while acknowledging that condoms are not guaranteed to work 100 percent of the time, abstinence-education advocates often claim that teaching about proper condom use offers young people a “false sense of security.”
On their websites, Full Circle, Life Choices Pregnancy Resource Center, and the Women’s Care Centercite identical statistics emphasizing what they portray as the lack of effectiveness of condoms. These centers tell readers that “consistent” condom use during vaginal sex reduces the risk of “HIV by 85%”; human papillomavirus “by 50% or less”; and gonorrhea, Chlamydia, herpes, and syphilis “by about 50%.” The statistics come from various studies compiled by the Medical Institute, a nonprofit organization whose advice for preventing STDs is: “Avoid sexual activity if you are single. Be faithful to one uninfected partner for the rest of your life.”
Richard A. Crosby, a professor and chair at the Department of Health Behavior at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, told TAI that these statistics are misleading.
“These are not statistics that are widely supported by the literature,” Crosby said. “They are confounded by a lack of accounting for the correct use of condoms. Consistent use alone is not enough. … When you do not account for the correct use, you have an underestimate of the effectiveness.”
Crosby, who has received federal grants to conduct research on HIV prevention, is currently working on a “highly controlled, rigorous” study funded by the National Institutes of Health to determine the value of consistent and correct condom use in preventing three common STIs: Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and trichomoniasis.
“All of these numbers are way low,” Crosby said, referring to the pregnancy centers’ statistics (with the exception of the rate of condom-use effectiveness at preventing HPV, which he said is supported by studies). He said the claim that condoms are 85 percent effective in reducing HIV infection is “really misleading” and not supported by many research studies that isolate for consistent and correct use.
Full Circle Women’s Services – awarded $154,200 – is the anti-abortion pregnancy center that proposed trying to curb teen sex with a giant “Teen Life Maze.” The center cited the game as one of its “innovative approaches” to abstinence instruction in a grant application submitted to the Tennessee health department in May 2011. The maze is described as:
“[a] large game board of rooms designed to let teens experience the consequences – both positive and negative – of life choices. It is effective in that teens get to play along in seeing firsthand the results of good decisions and bad decisions ranging from making trips to the doctor for a lifelong STD or the satisfaction in staying on course and graduating from high school.”
In a subsequent document, the center explained that inspiration for the game comes from Georgia, where life mazes have been hosted in several schools across the state, and that Full Circle was “in the planning stages of bringing this event to Athens.”
Other innovative approaches proposed by Full Circle include hosting a game show about the risks of having sex and screening the film Look Before You Leap, described in the proposal as “an adrenaline rush of drama, action, and humor that takes relationship education to extreme heights.”