Actress Kate Walsh, who plays a doctor on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" television series, is receiving criticism from pro-life advocates for faulting abstinence education for the rising pregnancy and STD rates among teen girls.
Walsh, a member of the board of advisors of Planned Parenthood, attended a congressional briefing on sex education on Capitol Hill on Thursday, during which she advocated cutting out all government funding for abstinence education, according to the D.C.-based Family Research Council.
FRC President Tony Perkins disagrees with her position on abstinence education.
"Contrary to what Walsh and her liberal friends believe, doing away with abstinence education won't lower teen pregnancy rates," he wrote in an e-mail about the event on Thursday.
"Instead it would squelch one of the most effective methods of reducing teen sexual risk," Perkins added.
The conservative leader pointed to statistics from Adolescent and Family Health showing that 67 percent of the reduction in teen pregnancies is a result of abstinence education.
Perkins also cited the Medical Institute, which noted that "sexual activity places teens at high risk for getting sexually transmitted diseases and using contraception does not eliminate that risk."
Walsh also took her sex education campaign to airwaves on Friday's CBS The Early Show, where she told co-anchor Julie Chen, "Abstinence-only is not working. It's a $1.5 billion program over the last ten years that has, quite frankly, failed."
She attempted to link abstinence-only education to the rising STD rates among teens by citing the recent Center for Disease Control statistics which showed that at least one in four teenage American girls has a sexually transmitted disease.
The actress called for more government spending on sex-ed, noting that private foundations and parents should not be trusted sources.
Walsh, whose "Grey's Anatomy" character engages in activity like sexual romps in the hospital closet on the show, also revealed her take on abstinence, saying that to expect "everybody to remain abstinent is just – it's like asking them not to grow."
Kristen Fyfe of the Culture and Media Institute, a media watchdog, took issue with the segment for not airing opposing viewpoints and giving Walsh "a soapbox to parrot Planned Parenthood's talking points."
"The fact of the matter is that in most schools across the country abstinence is not the only thing that is being talked about," wrote Fyfe in a Mar. 28 article.
"Additionally abstinence-only education receives one-tenth the funding that comprehensive sex education programs receive from the federal government. Planned Parenthood's annual take from the federal coffers is $300 million," she continued. "None of these facts were presented in Chen's interview."
Fyfe also referred to a column by CMI Director Robert Knight that offers an alternate opinion on the link between STD statistics and sex education.
"The federal government has spent billions of dollars on 'safe sex' programs in schools for the past 40 years," cited Fyfe. "Yet every time statistics are released documenting a rise in STDs or teen pregnancy rates the liberal media condemn abstinence-only education."
She added that it's not the rise in STDs and teen pregnancy rates are not surprising given that "children are bombarded by sexual messages everywhere they turn."
Walsh spent the remainder of Friday campaigning throughout eastern Pennsylvania for democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, whom she has described to The Washington Post as "pro-Planned Parenthood, pro-choice and pro-women."