Conservatives: Waxman Report is Faulty not Abstinence-only Education

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) released a report last Wednesday alleging that 11 of the nation’s 13 Abstinence-only Education programs in use in 25 states present undermines the effectiveness of condoms and present misinformation about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. Backers of the programs, however, say Waxman’s report lack credibility and ignores statistics showing the programs’ success.

The report comes weeks after Congress approved a spending bill allocating $170 million for Abstinence-only education programs.

Some of the programs teach scientifically incorrect information, according to the report. Why kNOw curriculum teaches that a new individual receives 24 chromosomes from each parent when the correct number if 23. Another, Green's Game Plan, undermines the effectiveness of condoms, said Waxman’s report.

Waxman said, "It is absolutely vital that the health education provided to America's youth be scientifically and medically accurate. The abstinence-only programs reviewed in this report fail to meet this standard."

In response to Waxman’s report, Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn) said that abstinence-only programs should be reviewed by the government. "That's in part our responsibility to make sure that all of these programs are reviewed,” he said on ABC’s Sunday program “This Week.”

Abstinence advocates and pro-family groups say the report is only an attempt to discredit highly successful abstinence programs.

“The abstinence community is not surprised by this report,” said Communications Director for the Abstinence Clearinghouse Jessemyn Pekari.

“Sex education advocates are simply scared because they see their monopoly on the minds of children eroding and they have no idea what to do about it. Attacking abstinence education is their desperate attempt to hold on to the power they have held without accountability for four generations. Waxman and his band of merry men are simply scared.”

Connie Mackey, Vice President of Government Affairs for Family Research Council, suggested the Waxman should have called for a bi-partisan review of the programs but since it was researched and distributed by his own staff, she said, the report lacks credibility.

"The report has no scientific background in its research; its not peer reviewed,” Mackey stated. “The report is a joke, it was cooked up and served by his own staff and now it's being devoured by the national media.”

One specializing in adolescent health education since 1985, Project Reality, said the report was politically charged.

"It's no secret that sex education groups who opposed President Bush's support of increased funding for abstinence programs are upset by the irrefutable fact that abstinence is the safest, healthiest lifestyle for teens,” said Libby Gray, Director of Project Reality.

Gray added, “If indeed our young people choose abstinence as THE healthiest lifestyle, there would be no need for all those programs that exist to repair the damage caused by adolescents being sexually involved."

Linda Klepacki, a sexual health analyst for Focus on the Family, agreed.

"The truth of the matter is, abstinence works every time in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. That's not a political statement, or a creative interpretation of scientific evidence. It's an absolutely indisputable fact."

Several studies support success claims made by abstinence advocates. The Center for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows a decrease in the number of teens who are sexually active from 1991 to 2003, from 54.1 to 46.7 percent. Adolescent and Family Health published an April 2003 study that credited increased abstinence as “the major cause of declining birth and pregnancy rates among teen girls.”

"The half-truths and lies of 'comprehensive' sex-ed backers are far more dangerous and insidious than any mistakes made in the curricula reviewed by Representative Waxman," Klepacki said. "However, teens become pregnant, have abortions, even die as the result of the bill of goods they are sold by the groups Representative Waxman thinks should teach them about sex -- groups like Planned Parenthood and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States.”

In Melissa G. Pardue counter report written by, entitled “Waxman Report Is Riddled with Errors and Inaccuracies,” she cited the 2003 Heritage Foundation analysis of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health (Wave II, 1996) which found that sexually active teens are significantly more likely than their non-sexually-active peers to be depressed and attempt suicide.