Illinois action blog

Monday, May 5, 2008

Congress takes close look at abstinence-only

Earlier this month, Congress held the first-ever hearings on the failures of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform heard from scientists, clinicians, researchers and youth activists.

In his opening statement, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) said:

The statistics are shocking. A few weeks ago, the CDC released data showing that one in four teenage girls in the U.S. has a sexually transmitted infection. 30% of all American girls become pregnant before the age of 20; for African-American and Latina girls, the rate is 50%. And thousands of teenagers and young adults in the United States become infected with HIV each year.

If we're serious about responding to these challenges, we must base our policy on the best available science and evidence, not ideology.

We couldn't agree more.

Attendees reported that the most compelling testimony they heard were the personal stories of two impacted youth, Shelby Knox and Max Siegel. While in high school each student participated in abstinence-only programs and testified to the inaccurate misinformation provided that did not match the reality of their lives.

Max, a young person living with HIV told the committee, “Please end this horrible experiment so we can begin the work of saving young people’s lives.”

Video: Watch video of the hearing

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