Action Alert: Stop abstinence education from being funded in health care reform

Last week, the Senate Finance Committee passed an amendment by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) that authorized $50 million dollars for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in the Baucus' health care reform bill.

The good news is that abstinence-only programs are not funded in any other health care bill in the House and Senate, and President Obama has clearly stated that he does not want these sex education programs to be funded.

The bad news is that the Secular Coalition has learned that many Senators on both sides of the aisle are afraid of opposing these failed sex education programs because they don't want to offend their religious and socially conservative constituents.

Take Action Now.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that, "Abstinence-only programs have not demonstrated successful outcomes with regard to delayed initiation of sexual activity or use of safer sex practices... Programs that encourage abstinence as the best option for adolescents, but offer a discussion of HIV prevention and contraception as the best approach for adolescents who are sexually active, have been shown to delay the initiation of sexual activity and increase the proportion of sexually active adolescents who reported using birth control."

Tell your Senators that, as a nontheistic constituent, you believe their priority should be to protect the best interests of young people based on scientific evidence.  Tell them that you do not want another dime of your money going towards abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education, which is a program based on religious ideology, and does not promote the best interests of young people.

The amendment to fund abstinence programs passed by only one vote in the Senate Finance Committee. Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs ignore scientific research, the recommendations of medical experts, overwhelming public opinion – and basic common sense. Tell your Senators that you want them to do everything in their power to remove funding for this program in the final health care reform bill.

Take Action Now.

Below is the text the Secular Coalition provided:

Dear Senator,

As a constituent of yours and a nontheistic American, I am greatly troubled by an amendment that passed in the Senate Finance Committee that would re-commit $50 million dollars of tax-payer money to fund failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. I am writing to ask you to do whatever you can to strip the Hatch Amendment from the final Health Care Reform bill in the Senate. 

Since 1997, the federal government has allocated more than $1 billion for abstinence-only-until marriage programs. Educational programs on sexuality for teens should protect the health and safety of young people -- not promote a particular religious perspective.

The American Academy of Pediatrics states that, "Abstinence-only programs have not demonstrated successful outcomes with regard to delayed initiation of sexual activity or use of safer sex practices... Programs that encourage abstinence as the best option for adolescents, but offer a discussion of HIV prevention and contraception as the best approach for adolescents who are sexually active, have been shown to delay the initiation of sexual activity and increase the proportion of sexually active adolescents who reported using birth control."

Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs promote a conservative religious perspective over a secular science-based approach to sex education and it is important to American young people that only these secular science-based approaches be funded by the government. 

Please do not succumb to pressure by religious conservatives to continue spending millions of dollars on ineffective, religiously biased sex education programs. 

Thank you.

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