December 3, 2004
With great fanfare, this week Congressman Henry Waxman (D-Ca) released a report on sex education, “The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Education Programs.” It purports to be an analysis of abstinence programs.
After poring through the 26-page document with a yellow highlighter, it became clear that “The Report” is the tip of an iceberg. And as with all icebergs, the most tantalizing parts of the report lie under the water, out of sight, and unreported by mainstream news. Get ready to take some depth soundings on what lies below. It’s not a pretty sight.
Sounding One: Henry Waxman ordered the report. Why? Because he wanted to. Waxman’s own paid staff prepared the report…for their boss…who hires and fires them.
Sounding Two: Henry Waxman already knew what he wanted the report to say before he ordered it. Since first elected in 1974, he has amassed a sizable and telling voting record. Waxman receives a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and NOW…earned for his steadfast support of abortion on demand and without restriction and of same-sex marriage.
“On the votes that the Planned Parenthood considered to be the most important from 1995 to 2001,” says Vote-Smart.org, “Representative Waxman voted their preferred position 100 percent of the time.” Planned Parenthood has, from the beginning, stood vehemently in opposition to abstinence education funded by Congress and spends thousands of dollars each year lobbying against it.
Sounding Three: As we dive lower into darker waters, reading “The Report” in the dim light…don’t expect any further information from Waxman or his staff. They aren’t talking. Well…you can call their media person…and IF she calls you back…well…I’m still waiting.
Sounding Four: We are in the dark waters now, where it’s easy to hide an iceberg behind thick oily slicks of footnotes. Indeed, at times in “The Report” there are more footnotes than report. But we live in an age where it is possible to fill two pages with footnotes in defense of adults having sex with children. We must keep our eyes on the berg. What is “The Report” really about?
“The Report” claims a “scarcity of comprehensive sex education courses” and links this to lack of funding. Hmmm. What about the reported $254 million in government grants and contracts to Planned Parenthood for 2002-2003? Or the $288 million in abortion/health clinic income for the same period? Did the report attempt to identify funding streams that direct money to Planned Parenthood and others, available for their condom-based sex education? I called Waxman’s office to inquire…and left a message…I’m still waiting.
“The Report” attempts to “prove” abstinence education is ineffective. Yet, Douglas Kirby, the expert cited in their own footnotes gave a lengthy presentation in Phoenix last September which may surprise Waxman. Dr. Kirby says we have no reason to conclude that abstinence programs don’t work. Reiterating what he has said many times over the years, Kirby said, “The jury is still out.” In fact, he said he expects in the coming years that studies will demonstrate the effectiveness of abstinence education.
“The Report” literally drips with research citations on every page. Yet, they missed a few…the ones that demonstrate success of abstinence education programs in Denmark, SC and in Monroe County, NY. Maybe they missed these and other studies…or maybe they wanted to miss reports on the successes of abstinence education.
“The Report” goes to great lengths to “explain” condoms. Why? In 2001, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in conjunction with the CDC, released a detailed summary report on a comprehensive review of condom research. The panel of medical experts finally demonstrated the lack of evidence for broad “safe-sex” claims based on condoms. Anyone working to unravel the truth about condoms would do well to bypass Waxman’s obfuscation and check the NIH report.
“The Report” claims some programs are inaccurate in linking pregnancy to “touching another person’s genitals.” However, they fail to note that abstinence educators have had to undo the long list of lies associated with some condom-based programs. These programs have gone so far as to coin the term “outercourse”…versus intercourse…teaching students in contradiction to medical realities that any and all “outercourse” is fun and safe, including naked body to body eroticism, just short of actual intercourse.
“The Report” objects to abstinence programs and their views of “when life begins.” Waxman’s staff might be enlightened by a text, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, 6th Edition: “Human development begins at fertilization.” Of course, this might be a disturbing revelation for Waxman and his supporters who have no problem with partial birth abortion, the destruction of babies just nano-seconds from birth.
“The Report” objects to information about “the physical and psychological effects of legal abortion.” Hmmm. Waxman’s staff gives no credence to any negative impact of abortion discussed by abstinence educators. So…are the only effects of abortion positive? I’d like to talk with his staff about that one…if they ever call back.
“The Report” objects to abstinence program efforts to discuss male/female differences and marriage. And here is where we hit the crux of many an objection to abstinence education from people like Waxman. Linking healthy sex, with healthy male/female relationships inside of marriage, where having babies is a joyful occasion…planned or unplanned…this is an affront to those who would want our children to embrace same-sex sex and same-sex marriage.
In a report that claims to seek and destroy “errors and distortions”, this short list of errors and distortions is unforgivable. Somehow, though, I doubt Waxman or his staff are seeking forgiveness.
I think they are seeking what they got…“The Report”…a mass of errors and distortions constructed by people who knew what they wanted to find before they looked.
No wonder Waxman is touting “The Report” with such enthusiasm. He got what he paid for.
See Archives for past editorials.
March 26, 2004: Abstinence: The Real Deal
April 2, 2004: Sex Education: Spinning the Truth