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MSNBC: Why fund abstinence-only programs that don't work?
Mike Aivaz and Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday December 6, 2007

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A new study has concluded that abstinence-only education programs do nothing to reduce or delay sexual activity among teenagers, confirming a Congressional report released last spring. Yet these programs are receiving nearly $200 million in federal funding and Congress is prepared to increase this by another $28 million.

MSNBC host Dan Abrams commented on the proposed increase, saying, "It seems to me absurd that Democrats in Congress can't say 'We're going to cut it off.' Instead they're using this as bait and constantly saying, 'Oh, you know, we'll trade you.'"

"I'm hoping this is a trick," added Abrams' co-host, Rachel Maddow of Air America Radio. "For the Democratic Congress to go along with it? I'm hoping there's something I don't understand about that."

Abrams then turned to Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association and asked her how, if she disagrees with the studies, she would explain why 14 states are refusing federal funding for abstinence-only programs

"We know that's a part of a coordinated plan by historic opponents of abstinence education," Huber replied confidently. "Through misinformation ... they are convincing governors that this is not a good plan."

Huber stated further that the Congressional study which concluded abstinence education isn't working really means that "we need to have more of it, not less."

Maddow broke in to argue that abstinence-only education is not only useless but actively harmful, because it doesn't give young people the information on pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases that they need to keep them safe when they do have sex.

"That's not true at all," said Huber. "Abstinence education provides a realistic and accurate discussion of contraception, all within the context of why abstinence is the best choice. Teens are presented all the information necessary to make wise decisions."

Abrams put up figures showing that 58% of US teens have had sex before the age of 18, many of them with multiple partners. "Let's deal with the reality," he said. "I guess that the position of abstinence-only is to just go like this [hands over eyes] and say 'Oh, please tell me they're not going to do it.'"

"Teens are resonating with the message of abstinence-only education in increasing numbers," insisted Huber. "More and more teens are abstaining."

"That's not what the studies show!" Abrams exclaimed.

"$200 million for a program that is at the very least controversial?" Abrams concluded. "Doesn't seem to me to be a very good use of taxpayer dollars."

A transcript of this program is available HERE.

The following video is from MSNBC's Abrams Report, broadcast on December 04, 2007