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Abstinence-Only Programs Don't Work!

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the release of Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Disease, a report authored by Douglas Kirby, Ph.D., a leading researcher in adolescent health, confirmed, once again, that the $1.5 billion federal and state investment in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs is a waste of taxpayer money.

The report, commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, examined both comprehensive sexual and abstinence-only education programs. Of the 48 programs included in the study, the only programs that delayed sexual initiation were comprehensive sex education programs. Moreover, the report clearly states "there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence, or reduces the number of sexual partners."

"I'm not sure how many more studies will be necessary before congressional leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Appropriations Chairman David Obey get it," said James Wagoner, President of Advocates for Youth. "Yesterday's vote by House Democrats to allocate an unprecedented $141 million to failed abstinence-only programs is a slap in the face to science-based public health and places the health and safety of young people at risk."

Over ten years, a number of other reports have sent clear signals to an ideologically controlled Congress that funding abstinence-only-until-marriage programs was wrong. In 2000, the Institute of Medicine stated that the abstinence-only policy was "poor fiscal and public health policy" and recommended that the programs be stopped. By 2004, ten state evaluations (Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington) showed few short-term benefits and no lasting, positive impact on teen sexual behavior.

In 2006, the Society for Adolescent Medicine (SAM) called the programs "scientifically and ethically flawed" and found that the "efficacy of abstinence-only interventions may approach zero." That same year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) admonished Health and Human Services for its lack of oversight in ensuring that these programs provided "medically accurate information about condom effectiveness." And earlier this year, a 10-year government-mandated study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. showed that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs did not impact teen behavior.

"The overriding consensus of these studies sends a clear and unambiguous message that Democratic leaders of Congress continue to ignore," added Wagoner. "Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs don't work. This Congress should follow the research and eliminate funding for these failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs."

Advocates for Youth is a national organization that promotes programs and advocates for policies that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health.

SOURCE Advocates for Youth
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