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Leaders of the Failed Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Industry Scramble as Government Oversight and Reform Hearing Approaches

For Immediate Release: April 22, 2008

Contact: Patrick Malone at (212) 819-9770 ext. 316


Washington, DC – Today, leaders of the abstinence-only-until-marriage industry held a press conference at the National Press Club to present their position to the media.  The event is timed to coincide with the first-ever Congressional hearing on the effectiveness of federally funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which will be held before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform tomorrow, April 23rd.

“This press conference provided a preview of the extreme Far Right’s arguments about abstinence-only-until-marriage programs,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).  “Their goal was clearly to get their misinformation out to the press in a controlled environment, without the pressure of having to answer probing questions from members of Congress who are demanding to know why these failed programs continue to get funding.”

Presenters at the press conference included Robert Rector and Christine Kim from The Heritage Foundation, a Right-Wing think tank based in Washington D.C.  Mr. Rector was one of the leading figures in the creation of the modern abstinence-only-until-marriage industry.  Dr. Stan E. Weed, research director for the Institute of Research and Evaluation, also presented and discussed his study from the January/February 2008 issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior, which assessed the effectiveness of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs among a small number of students in middle schools in Virginia. 

Numerous studies over the past year have shown that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs don’t work.  An April 2007 study commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services, and conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. shows that these programs have no positive effect on the sexual behavior of youths.  At the same time, Emerging Answers 2007, a report authored by Dr. Douglas Kirby, a leading sex researcher, showed that comprehensive sex education programs hold the most promise for lowering the rates of teen pregnancy and STDs.

“Be prepared to hear about Dr. Weed’s study all week,” continued Smith.  “In the face of overwhelming evidence that these programs don’t work, this study of a marginally successful program is the only thing the Far Right has to fall back on.  I think the American people are going to have a pretty easy time deciding that this is not enough to justify the more than $1.5 billion squandered on these programs so far.”

Dr. Weed will be one of the witnesses appearing at the Committee hearing on Wednesday, the 23rd.  Also testifying will be leading experts in the field of sexual health, representing national, major medical organizations, including the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, all of which oppose abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.            

For more information about abstinence-only-until-marriage programs or about the Government Oversight and Reform hearing, contact Patrick Malone at (212)819-9770 ext. 316 or pmalone@siecus.org.

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