Christians and proponents of federal abstinence programs cried foul over what they claimed was a biased attempt to write off federal abstinence until marriage programs as ineffective and damaging to the health of youth.
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council (FRC), was among those who criticized Democratic Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, "known for his support of radical causes such as abortion on demand and for so-called 'comprehensive' sex education," of "stacking" the panel against federal abstinence programs during a House Committee meeting on Wednesday.
Among the seven "experts" that spoke at the panel, all but one used the opportunity to thrash federal abstinence programs, claiming that they had contributed nothing to reduce rates of teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases or lower ages and incidences of sexual activity.
"Ninety-five percent of Americans have intercourse prior to marriage," testified Columbia University medical department chair John Santelli, while referring to a two-year-old study by Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest provider of surgical abortions, according to Baptist Press.
"Abstinence-only-until-marriage as a program goal is out of touch with broad demographic trends toward both an earlier age at first sex and a later age at marriage," Santelli said, recommending that Congress permanently cut federal abstinence programs in favor of sex education programs.
Pro-family advocates, however, said they were shocked to see how far the objectivity of Waxman's committee was compromised.
From the beginning, all but one of the "experts" indicated they would be opposed to abstinence-based education programs "even if it were shown to be effective."
"This was really a circus to try to move an ideological agenda, and that was to defund abstinence education," said Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, according to Baptist Press.
"... I was actually glad that Mr. Waxman had this hearing if only to reveal the disingenuous nature of this whole argument," Huber explained.
"In his opening comments he said he wanted to put ideology aside – assuming that it was abstinence educators who were ideological – and look solely at the science … but the fact of the matter is [the experts] were brought in just to say the same ideological talking points that Mr. Waxman wanted to be said. They were putting aside their professional objectivity to push an ideological agenda," Huber noted.
Pro-family advocates were also quick to point out that recent research supports abstinence-based education. In a review by The Heritage Foundation, 15 out of 21 abstinence-education programs "showed positive behavioral results in the students, including the delay or reduction of sexual activity."
"It's tragic that Chairman Waxman ignores evidence showing that sexual abstinence is the healthiest behavior for youth. The government does not promote drug use or underage drinking, and it should not promote high-risk sexual behavior, either," Perkins said in a statement.
"I urge members of Congress to support President Bush's request for $151 million for community-based abstinence education programs," Perkins added.