James Wagoner is President of Advocates for Youth, a leading national organization on adolescent reproductive and sexual health. A respected public policy and reproductive health expert, Mr. Wagoner previously served as executive vice president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Prior to that, Mr. Wagoner served as chief of staff to Senator Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-OH) and on the Senate Budget and Human Resources Committees.
In the years ahead, Advocates will continue to be a dynamic leader in promoting the rights of youth to information, education, and services. I am deeply committed to our current, innovative work expanding adolescent access to contraception domestically and internationally; fighting homophobia in schools and communities across the United States; and using our policy work on the Hill and with the administration to advance the goals of our state and local partners.
On Tuesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will vote to eliminate a program based on evidence in favor of one with no evidence of effectiveness. Earmarks are ok, as long as they are ideological.
Research released this week on an "abstinence-only" program for young, urban African American preteens found success in delaying sex for up to 24 months, but does not support the failed ab-only-until-marriage programs of the Bush era.
'Twas the night before Conference, when all through the House...Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The amendments were hung by the manager's chair, In hope that the votes soon would be there.
The time has come for the Democrats to correct course and stop government funding of ineffective abstinence-only programs. How can congressional leaders continue to ignore the public health consensus about science-based programs?
Today, the Democratic controlled Labor HHS Appropriations conference committee report includes the full increase requested by President Bush for abstinence-only programs. Let's call that what it is: a stunning disgrace.
The release of the 10-year evaluation of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs on Friday (if you can call the posting of the report on an obscure government website on a Friday afternoon a "release"), puts a big, bright spotlight on Democrats in Congress, particularly the appropriators.
Congress asked for this evaluation back in 1997. Do these programs work to protect young people? Ten years and over $1.5 billion dollars later, they got their answer. No, they don't. Period.
Now, you might be wondering why Congress went ahead and spent all that money over all those years with no evidence of effectiveness? You might wonder why Congress didn't halt these programs after the Institute of Medicine, the nation's leading authority on public health, called for their elimination back in 2000 or when the Society of Adolescent Medicine reported that the efficacy of abstinence-only programs was "near zero."
It's no secret that ABC hosts one of the most popular shows on television, Desperate Housewives. It's also no secret that the show's popularity is driven in large part by sex—lots and lots of sex. All kinds of sex! [img_assist|nid=2640|title=Desperate Housewives|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=219|height=165]Connected and unconnected; protected and unprotected; healthy and unhealthy; bonded and unbonded. Well, you get the point.
What few people realize, however, is that ABC's "anything goes" approach to the show's content stands in stark contrast to the network's policy of censorship when it comes to the show's advertising. While the network relies on sexual content to propel ratings, it bans the advertising of condoms around the show!
Robert F. Kennedy once said, "Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not." I like this quote because it challenges those of us working in the reproductive health field to ask the vision question - - the question that begins with "why not?"
Why not a society where young people are valued rather than stereotyped, prized as assets rather than discounted as liabilities? Why not a society where sexuality is viewed as a normal, positive aspect of being human, of being alive, rather than as forbidden fruit to be locked away in a fortress of shame, fear, and denial? [img_assist|nid=2088|title=Watch the Video|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=144|height=93]Why not a society where public policy is based on science and research rather than politics and ideology? Why not a society where values, morality, and character are used to infuse sexuality with meaning - with its truly human dimension - rather than misused to deny young people information that could one day save their lives.
Recently, people were stunned when they learned that the new Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidelines for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs encouraged grantees to target unmarried adults up to the age of 29.
With the government's own center of health statistics documenting that over 95% of adults in their late 20's have already had sex, public disbelief quickly turned to outright disdain for a government program that seemed to be so drastically - and willfully - out of touch with reality.
As participants in the effort to draw attention to this "29-year-old-virgin campaign", my colleagues and I were surprised to discover that conservative talk radio hosts were among the more outraged audiences. They were all over this story and eager to discuss how the campaign violated core conservative values by promoting big government, wasteful spending, and intrusion into personal choice. Oh, and I shouldn't leave out the "just plain nuts" reaction either.
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