On Thursday, the House of Representatives “approved a supplemental war funding package along with a domestic funding package” that did not restore a provision that would have allowed “pharmaceutical companies to sell deeply discounted birth control products to college health centers and certain family planning clinics.”
While President Bush is rumored to have issued a veto threat, Congress was ultimately responsible for the capitulation. In fact, rather than making contraceptives more accessible, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, “voted to continue funding the Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) program,” an abstinence-only initiative which “bypasses the state approval process (Title V money) and gives federal monies directly to abstinence-only programs. ”
According to health officials who testified before Congress in April 2008, abstinence-only initiatives have “had no positive effect on high school students, and may be a factor in the high rates of sexually-transmitted disease in teens.” In fact, “seventeen states have now refused Title V money, largely because of the failures of abstinence-only programs” and statistics suggest that these initiatives have contributed to the increase in the number of STD infections and unwanted pregnancies:
- A Centers for Disease Control report released in March 2008 found that “one in four sexually active American girls between the ages of fourteen and nineteen had one of four monitored sexually-transmitted diseases: human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis (a parasite).”
- A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released in December 2007 “showed the rate of births to teenagers rose by 3% last year” in 2006.
- According to data compiled by Avert, an international AIDS charity, syphilis rates increased by 11 percent between 2001 and 2006, while the rates of chlamydia infection increased by 27 percent.
Unfortunately, despite such overwhelming evidence, Congress continues to waste money and mislead the nation’s teens.