The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Abstinence-Only? I'd like you to meet Just Say No.

I'm not sure when an utter refusal to admit when you've completely botched something became a bedrock belief of the GOP (maybe its roots lie in that Reagan-era exhortation to 'never speak ill of a fellow Republican'), but here we are. My "favorite" example is missile defense, although it hasn't killed anybody yet.

But the ironically named abstinence-only education program, which believes that the best defense against disease is ignorance and religious propaganda, is a 21st-century classic in its own right. It's just a shame that this particular boondoggle is causing emotional and physical suffering to American teens in the name of sanctimonious demagoguery.

The good news: an increasing number of states are abandoning the Republican plan to give even more money to those willing to increase teen pregnancy and encourage the spread of STDs.

The number of states refusing federal money for "abstinence-only" sex education programs jumped sharply in the past year as evidence mounted that the approach is ineffective.

At least 14 states have either notified the federal government that they will no longer be requesting the funds or are not expected to apply, forgoing more than $15 million of the $50 million available, officials said. Virginia was the most recent state to opt out.

Two other states -- Ohio and Washington -- have applied but stipulated they would use the money for comprehensive sex education, effectively making themselves ineligible, federal officials said. While Maryland and the District are planning to continue applying for the money, other states are considering withdrawing as well.

Until this year, only four states had passed up the funding.

"We're concerned about this," said Stan Koutstaal of the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the program. "My greatest concern about states dropping out is that these are valuable services and programs. It's the youths in these states who are missing out."

Missing out on what-- the joys of chlamydia?!? I guess the sad irony of it all is that either way, the Republicans win with one delusional group of followers. They can either claim victory or play martyr to kiss fundamentalist ass, or boast about how they're shrinking government. Which wasn't true in the 1980s, either.