Saturday, November 27, 2004

We don't need no stinking studies

Tell me if you can imagine a more perfect example of the Shrub teams approach to knowledge than this, for CNN for Friday:
President Bush's re-election insures that more federal money will flow to abstinence education that precludes discussion of birth control, even as the administration awaits evidence that the approach gets kids to refrain from sex.

Congress last weekend included more than $131 million for abstinence programs in a $388 billion spending bill, an increase of $30 million but about $100 million less than Bush requested. Meanwhile, a national evaluation of abstinence programs has been delayed, with a final report not expected until 2006. ...

"We don't need a study, if I remember my biology correctly, to show us that those people who are sexually abstinent have a zero chance of becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant or contracting a sexually transmitted disease," said Wade Horn, the assistant secretary of Health and Human Services in charge of federal abstinence funding.
I'll accept that's true. It's also not the question. The question is if programs to push abstinence, particularly those that push abstinence in the absence of information on safe sex and contraception, do a damn bit of good. And even the administration admits it has no clue, with Horn saying "the research is not as adequate as it needs to be."

Well, the depends on what he means by adequate. Certainly there is research, research that should be adequate to open minds, but since it rejects the administration's narrow-minded, closed-eye view, it's inadequate for the purpose to which Horn would put it.
Independent researchers said in 2002 there is no reliable evidence whether [abstinence] programs are effective in reducing teen sex, pregnancy or the transmission of disease. ...

Advocates for Youth recently compiled state evaluations that found little change in teens' behavior since the start of the abstinence programs [in 1997]. The states evaluated are: Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington.

Leslee Unruh, president of National Abstinence Clearinghouse in Sioux Falls, S.D., said those state programs are not true abstinence programs because they talk about delaying sexual activity, but not specifically waiting until marriage.
Which is a laughable argument, because if the programs couldn't even convince the teens to delay sex (which is certainly a reasonable conclusion from the finding that there was "little change" in their behavior), what in hell makes anyone think that a "true" abstinence program could convince them to avoid sex altogether? It shows the desperation of their position and the paucity of their logic.

Oh, by the way, the folks that did that 2002 report have been updating their findings for HHS.
A second report was supposed to be released earlier this year, but has been pushed back, said HHS spokesman Bill Pierce. The final installation is expected in 2006.

Footnote: Horn said he's
not willing to wait for more evaluations, calling abstinence education "something that parents and children want."
Would that they would take that attitude about global climate change.

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