ACLU takes on abstinence-only ed

Will the courts stop the federal funding of programs that give kids medically inaccurate information about sex?

Published April 26, 2007 7:20PM (EDT)

News via RH Reality Check that the ACLU, Advocates for Youth and SIECUS are going after the Bush administration for its funding and support of abstinence-only education programs suggests that scientists will finally get their day in court on an issue that has been too long left to religious right-wing activists and bumbling bureaucrats. The case is based on evidence that 1) many federally funded abstinence-only programs are filled with medically inaccurate information about condoms, HIV and other sexual health issues and 2) the programs have not proved to be effective in preventing teens from having sex.

The abundance of research proving the ACLU et al.'s position should hearten us that the coming court case will mark the beginning of a more reality-based sex education for teens. Unfortunately, in the wake of the Supreme Court's "partial-birth" abortion ruling -- which disregarded the major medical experts' views that these procedures are sometimes medically necessary -- it's hard to hold out much hope. (Today the New England Journal of Medicine -- via Kaiser -- published three perspectives from doctors objecting to the ruling; all are equally horrified by the government intrusion into relationship between doctor and patient.)

Even if the ACLU manages to get abstinence-only programs smacked down in the lower courts, how can we expect science to trump opinion when the highest court in the land has become a mouthpiece for fanaticism?

By Carol Lloyd

Carol Lloyd is currently at work on a book about the gentrification wars in San Francisco's Mission District.

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