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Thanks Health Bill for the $250 Million Back to Abstinence-Only Education

We seemed so close.

No, not to real health care reform--though that would have been nice-- but to the end of abstinence-only-until-heterosexual-marriage education.

This is the federally funded program that since 1996 has been teaching kids in schools across the country that the only way to avoid teen pregnancy, STDs and emotional ruin, is to just say no to any sex that isn't maritally sanctioned. To further this goal, programs were barred from discussing everything from birth control and condoms to abortions and non-hetero sexual orientations--except to stress the dangers of such things.

Countless studies, not to mention our recent rise in teen pregnancies and STDs, demonstrated that this tactic didn't work. In light of this mounting evidence of failure, the number of states accepting abstinence funding had been steadily decreasing over the past few years. Another sign that abstinence was on it's way out? The Obama administration cut federal funding for such programs, set to go into effect September 2010.

Looks like things have changed.

Within the thousands of pages that make up the health bill, is nestled a $50 million a year line item for, yes, those very abstinence-only programs.

As the Washington Post reports,

"The bill restores $250 million over five years for states to sponsor programs aimed at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases by focusing exclusively on encouraging children and adolescents to avoid sex. The funding provides at least a partial reprieve for the approach, which faced losing all federal support under President Obama's first two budgets."

I guess that parents across the country can breath a sign of relief that their teens won't be learning about condoms and birth control, because apparently, despite legitimate science proving otherwise, these things don't work. And the unplanned pregnancy option that isn't parenting or adoption? Why would a country with a teen pregnancy rate twice as high as Canada's, and seven times as high as the Netherlands need to tell teens about that?