By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) sent a letter to President-elect Barack Obama asking him to continue abstinence education funding. The letter is signed by more 500 people, including physicians, educators and parents, as well as members of community organizations, health departments and youth-empowerment agencies.
The letter says that teens who have embraced the abstinence message, even after being sexually active in the past, have a newfound confidence in themselves that truly embodies the president-elect’s famous campaign slogan of “yes we can!”
“Millions of youth across the United States are making better health decisions because of the skills they learn in their abstinence education classes,” the letter says.
It goes on to encourage Obama to “put aside the misinformation you’ve undoubtedly received about abstinence education and allow for an informed discussion of the facts to determine this important public health policy for our youth.”
This may be a tall order. Obama supports a comprehensive approach to sex education that focuses on abstinence but also recognizes the need for age-appropriate education to reduce the risk of teen pregnancy. He believes “that contraception has to be part of the education process.”
Obama is also an original co-sponsor of the Prevention First Act (PFA). Introduced in January 2007, the PFA proposes to “increase funding for family planning and comprehensive sex education that teaches both abstinence and safe sex methods. The Act will also end insurance discrimination against contraception, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and provide compassionate assistance to rape victims.”
However, what is carefully hidden in this bill’s language is the fact that it would force insurance companies to fund, doctors to prescribe, and pharmacies to dispense, abortifacient contraceptives.
In spite of the odds, the NAEA letter boldly quotes Obama: “As you so aptly stated in your acceptance speech, ‘we rise and fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poised our politics for so long.’
“We ask that this be the first campaign promise that you keep” by agreeing to “meet in order to begin a meaningful and nonpartisan conversation around this issue.”
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