Opponents of abstinence-only programs step up efforts

About 20 organizations that support comprehensive sex education are stepping up their efforts to urge Congress to reject any additional increases in federal funding for abstinence-only sex education programs across the country, The Washington Times reports. The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, Planned Parenthood, and Advocates for Youth have launched a nationwide campaign calling for no new federal money to go to abstinence-only programs, saying there is no evidence that abstinence programs reduce the rates of sexual activity, pregnancy, or sexually transmitted disease transmission among youth.

President Bush has requested $135 million in his fiscal year 2003 budget for abstinence programs, a 33% increase over 2002 funding levels. SIECUS president Tamara Kreinin said more than $500 million has been spent on abstinence-only sex education since 1998 despite a lack of evidence showing the programs are effective. The groups are urging Congress to instead support a bill sponsored by U.S. representatives Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and James Greenwood (R-Pa.) that would boost spending on comprehensive sex education programs to $100 million in fiscal 2003. The House Appropriations Committee this week is beginning work on 2003 appropriations for the Labor and Health and Human Services departments.

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