Old conservative boondoggles never die, and sometimes – given how wimpy Democrats can be — they don’t even fade away.
Abstinence only “sex education” has been repeatedly proven to be an utter and complete boondoggle. It doesn’t delay the onset of sexual activity or reduce the number of sexual partners teens have. What it does do, however, is to increase the likelihood that early sexual activity, when it does occur, will be unprotected, thereby greatly increasing the risk of both unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
Meanwhile, federal abstinence funding has served as a giant pay off scheme to ultraconservative pro-Republican religious organizations.
As the ultimate proof of how counterproductive this has been, as discussed in a new AP report, states have been dropping out of the program in droves, voluntarily giving up the federal funding rather than accepting fairy-tale inspired restrictions on what they’re allowed to teach. Barely half of the states are still in the program, an extraordinarily small number considering the usual eagerness of state official s to accept “free money” from the feds.
And two new states, Arizona and Iowa, have announced that they’re now joining the parade of states out of the program.
Let’s add things up: abstinence education not only doesn’t work, it actually harms our children by putting them at risk for unwanted early pregnancies and disease. It also helps Republicans politically by funding far right organizations.
So it’s perhaps not surprising that when the Democrats won control of Congress in 2006, the party’s long suffering base was optimistic that this monstrosity would finally be put to death.
You see, it turned out the Democrats in Congress had a much better idea: instead of abolishing abstinence funding, they decided to increase it.
Why? According to Congressional Quarterly, it was supposed to be the bait to get Republicans to support the budget as a whole:
Lawmakers say the olive branch extended to Republicans increases the likelihood that the bill will pass the House with a veto-proof majority. It also sends a strong signal that Appropriations Chairman David R. Obey, D-Wis., will avoid controversial social policy changes this year in the interest of moving bills.
Could there be a better example of what’s wrong with the Democratic congressional leadership? The GOP, during their years in power, would never have dreamed of such a sellout. True, they were always more than happy to loot the treasury for useless programs — but ones that pandered to their base and lined the wallets of their supporters. They drew the line at useless programs (and for that matter useful ones) that pandered to or lined the pockets of the opposing party’s supporters.
While I would certainly never encourage congressional Democrats to model themselves after the gang of thieves who ran things in the bad old Republican days, perhaps in this one respect the Republicans may just have had a point.