Senate Finance Committee nixes public option, shells out for abstinence-only education

I have never wished more passionately that there was such a thing as “opposite day” as last night, when I read that not only had the Senate Finance Committee rejected a public health care option, they actually shelled out $50 million a year for abstinence-only sex education, over the vehement protests of the committee’s chairman, Max Baucus.  President Obama cut spending for abstinence-only education in May, and this new measure shows just how deeply some lawmakers misunderstand the origins of the healthcare crisis.  How can we bemoan the costs of a public health care plan that would give insurance to 44 million Americans, while throwing money at a program that will actually tax the system further? 

To put it more plainly: abstinence-only sex education costs us money.  In Texas, of all places, schools are moving away from abstinence-only education because of their skyrocketing teen pregnancy rates (incidentally, it also leads the nation in terms of money spent on abstinence-only programs).  Instead, they are funding something called “abstinence-plus” education, which emphasizes abstinence as a healthy choice, but encourages teens to use protection if they do engage in sexual activity.

The negative effects of abstinence-only education are far-reaching, and there are few who will defend it outside a small and vocal minority.  Dr. Margaret Blythe of the American Academy of Pediatrics told a House committee in 2008 that “Those adolescents who choose to abstain from sexual intercourse should obviously be encouraged and supported in their decisions by their families, peers and communities. But abstinence should not be the only strategy that is discussed.”

Needless to say, what’s happening in Congress right now is very depressing.  Obama is essentially hanging pro-choice Democrats out to dry by telling them to “work out” issues over reproductive health care coverage with anti-choice Democrats (apparently using federal subsidies so that lower-income women can access abortion violates the country’s moral foundation, and people don’t want their tax dollars going to abortion coverage.  This is very arrogant, considering that I personally oppose the death penalty, but my tax dollars still pay for lethal injections).  The public option is pretty much out the window, and now this?  Baucus did manage to pass another measure, one that “would make money available for education on contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, among other things, in addition to abstinence.”  Let’s only hope that sanity returns to the Senate when they are forced to reconcile the two measures.

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Rachel M H.

Abstinence only in Junior and Senior Hi ? What world are we living in ? Our tvs, computers, movies and the news papers are constantly bombarded with sexually explicit activity and curious teens are supposed to be experts on the subject ? Our society has not learned how to educate our children the same as their parents didn't know how to educate them. How many more generations do we need to go through before we realize that WE HAVE TO EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN "ABOUT SEX" LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE THEY HAVE TO BE EDUCATED ABOUT. Sex is not dirty and CAN NOT be taught by osmosis. Sincerely

Johanna P.
Johanna P8 years ago

For people who send their young to kill the "enemy" and bring most of them them home with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrom I cannot understand why it is so bad to have uncommitted sex or abort an unwanted fetus. Aren't these extremes on the same theme Respect for Life?
Also, if sex can be done safely ( one gets hurt emotionally and physically) what is wrong with it?
If we really want to keep sex for committed adults then we should stop exploiting sex for financial gain in the media as well and/or keep the lives of the rich,famous and politicians hidden from the masses as we do with the results of vaccinations on our toddlers.
Come on, stop being hypocrits and observe what is REALLY going on.

Frank Lornitzo
Frank Lornitzo8 years ago

Pass a law requiring lawmakers to abstain from adultery. (I don't mean about putting sawdust in bread as I understood it as a 7 year old)

Charlene R.
Charlene Rush8 years ago

We, the voters, are largely responsible for what we get from our legislators. Continually, we vote them back into office. When will we learn? The excessive power, that they have and exert, comes from their abundant years in office.

Heather O.
Heather O8 years ago

There are not words adequate to express my UTTER disgust.

Carol Warren
Carol Warren8 years ago

I'm an eighth grade special education teacher and you just have to spend a day walking around the halls of pretty much any middle school in America to realize that these young teens need information on all of their options and in a direct and honest way. They know when your lying and immediately get turned off. They not only need all available information concerning sex and the ways to prevent pregnancy and disease, they have a right to this information and we, I feel have a moral obligation to educate them. They're very sexual and touchy feely with each other and on top of it they are constantly bombarded with pretty explicit sexually implied scenarios through all aspects of the media. We need to get real as a society and take responsibility now!!!

Amanda M.
Amanda M8 years ago

Linda, that cocklock comment made me laugh! It reminds me of that scene in "Robin Hood: Men In Tights" where the Sheriff ripped open Maid Marian's gown to reveal the chastity belt and said "A chastity belt?!?!? Uugghh...that's going to chafe my willy!"

Joking aside, I find it disgusting that people still believe that abstinence-only sex education still works when the statistics simply scream the fact that it doesn't! Comprehensive sex ed is the best form of education.

It makes me wonder...since some schools have an "opt-out" clause for parents who object to the idea of comprehensive sex ed, I wonder if there's an "opt-out" clause for those of us who object to abstinence-only sex ed, especially when it's liberally laced with scientifically inaccurate and theology-based misinformation? I want my daughters to learn the facts about contraception and reproductive health, not that they're going to hell if they have sex before they get married!

Barbara V.
Barbara V8 years ago

You have to expect all this in a sick society; one reaps what one sows. Time to pay the piper.

Karl Mueller
Karl Mueller8 years ago

Step 1: Find out if any member of this committee "represents" you.
Step 2: Vote against this corrupt idiot in the next election.
At least this is how the system is SUPPOSED to work....

Patricia A.
Patricia A8 years ago

Will congress ever be on the side of the people? It doesn't look like it. This is a failed program, and 50M to fund it is an outrage!
50M would be better spent for shelters for the homeless, but then that would be a sensible use of the money.