Secular Coalition for America Expresses Concern over Abstinence-Only Funding in Health Care Bill

For Immediate Release: March 19, 2010

Despite assurances from congressional leadership and other leaders on reproductive health issues on Capitol Hill, the health care reform bill to be voted on Sunday will contain funding for abstinence-only sex education. The provision will force taxpayers to spend $50 million a year for states to spend on programs based, not on medical science, but on religious ideology. The Secular Coalition for America, the national advocacy organization representing secular Americans, expressed its deep disapproval over this reversal.

“2009 marked the first year in nearly three decades that federal birth control funding was focused unequivocally on science-based sex education. No federal funds were spent on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs–programs not supported by scientific consensus.  We are greatly disappointed that health care reform was used as a vehicle for extending this theocratically-motivated program which ignores science,” said Sean Faircloth, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America.

Federal abstinence-only-until-marriage programs were defunded in the FY 2010 appropriations bill, an important victory for reason-based health education, ending government-funded religious indoctrination.  Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs contain false and misleading assertions to our nation’s youth, cloaked in bogus “medical” legitimacy, teaching religious propaganda and theologically-driven gender stereotypes. These taxpayer-funded programs impose a religious cultural agenda at the expense of a science-based approach to sex education.

Between 1996 and FY 2009, Congress funneled over $1.5 billion dollars to abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. The 2010 Congressional leadership and the Obama administration indicated support for cutting off such funding. The president’s budget instead advocated for comprehensive sex education, with abstinence being only one component of what is taught. The inclusion of abstinence-only in health care reform marks a reversal of positions for both the administration and House leadership, and an unconstitutional encroachment of religious ideology into public education.


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