ACLU of Arizona Applauds Governor’s Rejection of Abstinence-Only Funds

Affiliate: ACLU of Arizona
January 18, 2008 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Arizona
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

PHOENIX – The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona today applauded Governor Janet Napolitano’s decision to reject funding for the state’s abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which have proven ineffective, inaccurate, and gender-biased.

Napolitano made the announcement to eliminate the abstinence-only funds from her FY 2009 General Fund Executive Budget at a luncheon today sponsored by Planned Parenthood Arizona, stating she does not believe Arizona should spend money on “an educational system that doesn’t educate.”

Napolitano added she will send a letter next week to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announcing her intention to reject the federal, Title V abstinence-only funds, affirmatively refusing any money that will not fund “real, complete sex education in our schools.”

With this announcement, Arizona becomes the 16th state to turn down federal dollars that support abstinence-only programs.

“We are pleased that the Governor has decided to stop misusing taxpayer dollars to support programs that give teens medically inaccurate and gender-biased information,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona, which has urged state officials to cut funding for abstinence-only programs. “Considering the state’s current fiscal crisis and the fact that we have the second highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, now is not the time to continue funding ineffective programs that spread misinformation about pregnancy prevention and condom effectiveness.”

Besides endangering teens’ health, abstinence-only programs raise serious civil liberties concerns, the ACLU said. These programs create a hostile environment for gay and lesbian teens, reinforce gender stereotypes, and in some instances use taxpayer dollars to promote religion.

The decision to cut the abstinence-only funds in Arizona comes on the heels of similar efforts by 15 other Governors from across the country, including New Mexico, Washington, Ohio and Wisconsin, who have recently rejected federal, Title V abstinence-only funding.

Arizona’s abstinence-only programs will continue to receive funding until June 30, 2008 through a combination of federal and state dollars. This year, the programs will cost Arizona taxpayers $780,000. An additional $1.2 million in federal Title V dollars will make up the rest of the funding through the end of FY 2008.

Despite the fact that the federal government has poured more than one billion dollars into abstinence-only programs since 1996, a study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that the programs don’t work. The in-depth analysis, released in April 2007, looked at several federally-funded programs and found that teens who participated in them were just as likely to have sex as teens who did not participate. Furthermore, these students had their first intercourse at the same age, and the same number of sexual partners, as students who did not participate.

An earlier review of program evaluations in 11 states, including Arizona, found that after participating in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, teens are less willing to use contraception, including condoms (D. Hauser, Five Years of Abstinence-only-until-marriage Education: Assessing the Impact, Advocates for Youth, September 2004).

For more information on abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education programs, visit:
www.aclu.org/reproductiverights/sexed/index.html

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