For Immediate Release
(Washington, DC, September 30, 2009) Humanists were outspoken in their disappointment about an amendment approved by the Senate Finance Committee late Tuesday night to bring back federal funding for abstinence-only education. The amendment, attached to the Max Baucus (D-Mont.) health reform package and offered by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), would provide $50 million each year through 2014 for abstinence-only education and bar those funds from being used for education about other sex-ed subjects, such as contraception. The amendment, if passed, would effectively reinstate the Title V abstinence-only program, which had expired on June 30.
“Abstinence-only education has been proven not to work,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “But Orrin Hatch doesn’t seem to be interested in what the research shows–this is about enforcing his version of morality onto others that don’t necessarily share it.”
Many studies, including a government-funded evaluation of the Title V program, have found that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are ineffective at delaying sexual initiation or reducing unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Moreover, research shows that teens in abstinence-only education programs are either equally likely or less likely to use contraceptives as teens in comprehensive education programs.
“While religious conservatives in Congress attempt to push through these ineffective programs, our kids are left without the knowledge they need to protect themselves. Millions of tax dollars are wasted in the process,” said Speckhardt.
“As this debate unfolds it’s clear that funding for these programs raises serious concerns about the separation of church and state,” Speckhardt added. “For example, one of the most notorious federally-funded abstinence-only programs was the Silver Ring Thing, which described its mission as ‘offering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the best way to live a sexually pure life.’ Thankfully, the ACLU was successful in challenging the program, but many other programs that were religiously motivated continued to be funded. There’s no doubt that if we reinstate funding for abstinence-only programs that this inappropriate mingling of church and state will happen again.”
The measure will need to pass the full House and Senate before it would become law.
The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across the United States.
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.
For more information contact:
Karen Frantz, communications and policy manager
American Humanist Association