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Attack on SIECUS by the Heritage Foundation.

In April, Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation wrote a piece for The Washington Times ("War Against Abstinence," April 19, 2005) in which he launched a desperate attack on comprehensive sexuality education, a new bi-partisan amendment proposed by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), and health and education organizations, including SIECUS. Rector's piece presented ideological fiction in an effort to misinform readers and advance his own far right agenda. SIECUS' response to this piece was published in the April 24, 2005 issue of The Washington Times Sunday Forum.

Rector started his attack by incorrectly citing a Zogby poll of parents and young people as supporting a strict abstinence-only-until-marriage approach. In fact, this poll suggests that over 75% of parents want schools to teach about both abstinence and contraception. Although commissioned by the conservative organization Focus on the Family, this poll echoes what virtually every national, state, and local survey has found; parents want their children to receive comprehensive information about sexual health.

Rector went on to claim that for every $1 spent on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, $12 is spent on contraception education. This application of fuzzy math compares school- and community-based programs for youth with medical services for poor and low income women. We all know that medical services cost far more than classroom activities. Nonetheless, while funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs has increased exponentially in recent years, federal funding allotted for these critical medical services has not even kept pace with inflation.

The purpose of Rector's piece was clearly to derail a bipartisan amendment that would allow states the freedom to use abstinence-only-until-marriage funds as they see fit. Currently, states that accept these funds must follow highly restrictive guidelines imposed by the federal government. States that want to provide young people with better education, simply cannot. The fact that the Heritage Foundation is so adamantly opposed to a states' rights amendment shows that even they are aware of the inherent weaknesses of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. At least 11 states have evaluated their own abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and not one has found that this investment has produced any long-term benefits for young people.

Rector ended his piece with a barrage of lies designed to disparage SIECUS and undermine our efforts to bring high quality sexuality education to our nation's youth. This was nothing more than a desperate act of someone who fears that he and his far right colleagues might lose their chokehold on federal dollars and who knows that when states are given an option they will choose to truly educate their young people.

In addition to SIECUS' response being published, many of our colleagues (including the principals of Advocates for Youth and the Alan Guttmacher Institute) also wrote in and had letters to the editor published correcting the misguided and misinformed ranting of Mr. Rector.
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Title Annotation:Sexuality Information and Education Council
Publication:SIECUS Developments
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2005
Previous Article:SIECUS in action:
Next Article:Responsible education about life act introduced in the House and Senate.

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