I'm a little confused. Well, a lot confused. People who were (are) against the health care reform bill that was passed into law last week complained that there were special earmarks in the bill that angered them.
Well, it turns out that one of those special earmarks restored funding for abstinence-only until marriage programs. This is not the type of special earmark I would imagine raised their ire. But I could be wrong.
President Barack Obama's first two budgets included zero funding for the abstinence-only programs. But the programs didn't go away, and they likely won't now that a provision of the health care reform bill restores $250 million over five years for states to sponsor these irresponsible programs. That one sure came out of left (or right) field!
Naturally, the National Abstinence Education Association responded with approval. According to The Washington Post, Valerie Huber, the lobbying group's executive director, said, "We're very happy to see that funding will continue so the important sexual health message of risk avoidance will reach American teens."
I guess they've already co-opted the language of risk-reduction. "Risk avoidance" does sound much better than "sex will ruin your life and probably kill you if you have it before marriage, and since gay people can't get married in most states, well, who cares about them anyway" education.
What exactly have they been doing these past few years? The abstinence-only groups have already received a quarter-billion dollars, our dollars, to provide this education that is so full of promises but so short on positive results.
I cringe at another quote from Ms. Huber - "What better place to see such an important health issue addressed than in the health legislation?" I suppose that's all they want the funding to do - address an issue, not provide any real solutions or help.
It certainly could be worse. We'll just have to work hard to see that this funding is not at the expense of supporting comprehensive sexuality education. Perhaps we'll be able to minimize the harm caused by abstinence-only programs.
Even better, we could see to it that this abstinence-only funding is not maintained. We could call the end of this funding "risk avoidance."