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Notes from the Hill — Call Gov. Patrick to back abstinence education for children


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Your help is again urgently needed on the abstinence education front, where calls to the governor’s office must be made as soon as possible to save funding for abstinence education in Massachusetts. The governor’s contact information and a suggested message are included at the end of this e-mail.

Unless persuaded otherwise, Gov. Deval Patrick is turning down funds from the federal government for abstinence education for children in middle school. Administration officials and Planned Parenthood complain that the funds come with strict guidelines that fail to promote contraceptives. They also point to a recent report (called the Mathematica study) purporting to show that abstinence education doesn’t work.

Here’s the background in a nutshell. The “strict guidelines” require that any abstinence program funded by federal grants:

— Has as its exclusive purpose teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity;

— Teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school-age children;

— Teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems;

— Teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of sexual activity;

— Teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects;

— Teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents, and society;

— Teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increase vulnerability to sexual advances, and

— Teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.

These commonsense objectives conflict with the politically correct view that kids are just really incapable of understanding the meaning of “no” and the beauty of waiting until marriage. But that’s not what Healthy Futures, the program in Massachusetts that has used the federal grants to teach abstinence to thousands of students in the Commonwealth, has witnessed. See their Web site at http://www.healthy-futures.org/ to get the real scoop on what happens when the moral capabilities of children are taken seriously.

What about the Mathematica study? The National Abstinence Education Association (NEAE) (http://www.abstinenceassociation.org/) has an informative review of the study, pointing out that it focused on only four education projects out of the many that are funded by the federal government, did not have a representative sample of students, and failed to compare abstinence only programs with “comprehensive” sex education programs which promote supposedly “safe” sex outside of marriage. For the full analysis, see “‘Abstinence’ or ‘Comprehensive’ Sex Education?-The Mathematica Study in Context” at http://www.abstinenceassociation.org/docs/Abstinence_vs_Comprehensive_Sex_Ed.pdf.

The federal funds have been and would continue to be used in conjunction with sexual education generally in the public schools of the Commonwealth, meaning that the children will receive a more balanced education in this area. If the funds are refused, then Healthy Futures will have to cut back its outreach, and more young students will be left without any access to common-sense education that respects their moral capabilities.

Call Gov. Patrick today at (617) 725-4000. Tell him that abstinence is the right message for young students and that you want him to accept the federal money to continue abstinence programs for pre-teens in the Commonwealth.

The governor has until the end of September to accept the funds or else they will be cut off, a tragic consequence for the youth and for Massachusetts. For more information about an ad campaign on this issue and other important facts, see www.voice-your-choice.org.

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