(U-WIRE) CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Basic logic suggests that, having identified a specific goal, the method proven most effective should be the one used to reach that goal. Apparently the Bush administration does not agree.
In outlining his budget proposal for the coming year, President Bush allocated an additional $135 million to help prevent teen pregnancy, a 33 percent increase.
In a country with the highest teen pregnancy rates of any developed nation, Bush’s goal is admirable. Unfortunately, his method is less than sound.
The funds allocated for sex education will be directed solely to abstinence-only programs.
These programs, however, have not been proven effective in reducing incidents of teen pregnancy.
Responding to the president’s plan, Vice President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Susan Martinez said that “there is no credible evidence that abstinence-only programs have any impact on reducing teen pregnancy”.
The Bush administration’s plan also ignores government studies on the issue.
A report by Surgeon General David Satcher stressed the need for broad-based sex education.
The White House refused to back the report when it was issued last June.
A non-partisan group, National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, also found that programs including both abstinence and contraception information were the only ones proven effective.
Bush’s refusal to sway from campaign promises, despite studies indicating that he’s not taking the right approach, is deliberate and unabashed. According to Newsweek, when asked why Bush had insisted that only reading programs with a proven track record would get federal funding, but felt it appropriate to ignore similar standards for sex education, a top advisor grinned and commented, “values trump data”.
This attitude is arrogant and irresponsible.
If the Bush administration truly were interested in curbing teen pregnancy, it would support the option most likely to do so.
Its greatest concern, however, is advancing a moral agenda and appeasing the voters that put the administration in the White House.