Blog of Rights

Rachel
Hart

New Hope for Reality and Truth

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 4:06pm
Yesterday, Wade Horn, Assistant Secretary for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced his resignation. Horn, a 2001 appointee, oversaw the dramatic increase in federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs under the Bush Administration. Federal funding for these programs, which in the last decade has topped over a billion dollars, mirrors the government’s obsession with legislating morality. Instead of encouraging teens to postpone sex until they are mature enough to make healthy decisions, these programs drill teens with a singular message: Abstain from sex until you are married or suffer the consequences. Indeed, these programs must teach that abstaining from sex outside of marriage — at any age — is the expected standard of human activity, and that sex outside of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects. The problem with this “standard” is that the vast majority of Americans don’t abide by it, and haven’t for decades. By the age of 20, 75 percent of Americans have had premarital sex — by age 44 that percentage jumps to 95 percent. Unfortunately, dealing with reality isn’t the only thing lacking in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs — they also struggle with the truth. Not only are programs encouraged to tell teens that condoms fail (in fact, recipients of federal dollars may not advocate contraception use or teach contraception methods except to emphasize its failure rates), but a report by the U.S. House of Representatives released in 2004 found that some of the most widely used federally funded curricula exaggerate contraceptive failure rates and include misinformation. And just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it does. Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs often discuss gender stereotypes as if they are scientific fact, address same-sex sex behavior only within the context of promiscuity and disease, and, as in the case of the Silver Ring Thing, use taxpayer dollars to promote religion. Abstinence-only-until-marriage programs raise a host of serious civil liberties concerns, but more importantly, they put teens’ health at risk in the name of pushing a particular moral agenda. Teens deserve better. One can only hope that Mr. Horn’s successor will understand the importance of replacing such medically inaccurate, misleading, and biased curricula with programs that provide teens with real information about protecting themselves against unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. — Rachel Hart, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project

HHS assistant secretary for children and families resigns.

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 5:30pm
Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families, in the Department of Health and Human Services announced his resignation today. Appointed by the Bush Administration in 2001, Horn oversaw the dramatic increase in federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage…

Op-Eds and Legislation Supporting Comprehensive Sex Education

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 4:13pm
Over the last couple days, several op-eds supporting comprehensive sex education have appeared in papers across the country. The Citrus County Chronicle discusses a new bill in the Florida Legislature that would require schools to notify parents about…

TomPaine.com: Lies We Teach Teenagers

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 6:25pm
TomPaine.com features an op-ed today from the ACLU's very own Julie Sternberg. Here's a snippet: Adolescence. We've all been there, and I would bet that most everyone remembers how awkward it can be. Hormones surge. Bodies transform. And suddenly there…

News Round-Up: Sexuality in sex ed, fertility, the importance of religious leaders in preventing teen pregnancy, and a look at Sweden.

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 3:35pm
Two articles on sex ed grace the pages of The Washington Post this week. One examines national trends surrounding the teaching of sexuality in sex ed classes. Not surprisingly, whether or not gay and lesbian issues are addressed, and if they are, how…

TV and radio segments on abstinence-only programs

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 6:56pm

The Today Show on NBC had a segment this morning on Purity Balls -- these balls seem to be getting a lot of attention as of late. You can watch the video here.

Also NPR ran a really interesting story this week on a church in Washington state…

I'm Taboo

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 11:23am
Sex, Etc., a national magazine and Web site on sexual health written by and for teens, has launched a new campaign to promote comprehensive sex education called "I'm Taboo." The campaign provides teens with a forum to submit videos and written submissions…

News Round-Up: Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Texas, and Washington

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 2:47pm
Iowa: An editorial in The Tribune calls on schools to "just say no" to The Power Team after a recent assembly at Ames Middle School. The Power Team uses feats of strength to deliver a message of abstinence-only-until-marriage to teens. A local parent…

Wisconsin Says No to Federal Dollars!

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 5:31pm
The Associated Press is reporting that Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin has directed the state to turn down about $600,000 in federal abstinence-only-until-marriage money because new rules would limit how much recipients could talk about contraception…

Valentine's Day News Round-Up: California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 3:19pm
Happy Valentine's Day -- or as The Liberty Council calls it "The Fourth Annual Day of Purity." Ever wondered what sorts of demonstrations take place in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs? Here's a sampling from recent news articles: In Montgomery,…
Statistics image