Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) just introduced the Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act. This legislation would end the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that have used $1.5 billion in Federal funding since 1996, and transfer that funding to the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) state-grant program.
The proposed change comes amid growing statistical evidence that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs have done little to decrease STD transmission among youth and has been ineffectual at reducing teen-pregnancy. In fact, teen-pregnancy actually rose by 3% in 2006 for the first time in more than a decade. A 10-year government study released in 2007 found that programs funded by Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage did not delay sexual initiation among youth.
PREP-funded programs offer a conmprehensive approach to sex education that includes information on both abstinence and contraception for the prevention of unplanned youth pregnancies and STD and HIV transmission. Programs must also provide sessions that cover healthy relationships, adolescent development, financial literacy, educational and career success, and healthy life skills. Various studies have shown that programs administered within this type of framework have been effective at cutting down on unintended pregnancies and STD transmission because participating youth are more likely to use some form of contraception at first intercourse even though rates of sex stay the same.