New Abstinence-Only Guidelines

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The Department of Health and Human Services has put forward new guidelines concerning grants for abstinence-only education programs. The guidelines specify that programs receiving funds must define abstinence as “voluntarily choosing not to engage in sexual activity until marriage.” Marriage, is also strictly defined as “a legal union between one man and one woman as a husband and wife.” Both statments send a very clear message that homosexuals should never engage in sex. Period. Because everyone should be abstinent until marriage and conveniently, the definition of marriage does not include gays.

Planned Parenthood says these new restrictions emerge “not from logic or evidence, but from extreme right-wing ideology.”

Abstinence-only programs have been allocated $1 billion in federal funds since 1996. None of those dollars go towards providing any information about safe sex or birth-control methods, other than discussing their likelihood of failure. In 2004 Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), conducted a study examining the accuracy of abstinence-only school curriculums, and found that more than two-thirds of government-funded programs misinform students. Government-funded programs teach young people that a 43-day-old fetus is a “thinking person” and “in heterosexual sex, condoms fail to prevent HIV approximately 31 percent of the time.”

According to Planned Parenthood, “sexually active teens have the highest rates for many STIs and the highest unintended pregnancy rates, and are estimated to account for nearly half of new HIV infections.” Abstinence-only education does nothing to put these numbers in check.

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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