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Abstinence: Here, There, Everywhere!

Rachel Hart,
Reproductive Freedom Project
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January 23, 2006

If you thought the administration was only pushing abstinence-only-until-marriage education at home, well, you’d be wrong.

Back in December, NPR’s All Things Considered ran a interesting segment called Abstinence, Condom Use at Odds in Overseas AIDS Fight which addressed charges by the Center for Health and Gender Equity that the Bush Administration is requiring AIDS prevention programs that receive U.S. funding in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia to emphasize abstinence and de-emphasize condom use. It’s worth listening to.

And a couple of weeks ago, I came across an article about Ellen Saurbrey in Salon.com. Saurbrey is the Bush Administration’s choice to head the U.S. refugee-response team. The article talks about her work at the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women and her “active opposition to programs that expand women’s access to contraception.” The article goes on to talk about how “[s]he infuriated representatives of other countries by working to scuttle international agreements that codify women’s right to reproductive healthcare. In March, she was loudly booed by delegates at a U.N. women’s conference in New York — a rare occurrence — for her comments endorsing abstinence education as the best way to fight HIV.”

Sensing a pattern?

Either directly or indirectly the U.S. is working very hard to spread the gospel of abstinence. Take Issue, Take Charge is focused on fighting on abstinence-only-until-marriage education in the U.S; however, it’s always good to remember that these issues extend far beyond our borders.

Anyway, food for thought.

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