Science vs. Ideology?

Mary McLellan
June 9, 2012
Heritage Community Services
Charleston, SC
Reproduced with Permission

For over forty year, the freedom to have sex with anyone and anything at any age has been the mantra of the Planned Parenthood Cartels. They consider Sexually Transmitted Disease to be an acceptable risk and if pregnancy occurs, "eliminate it before it's too late." They simply want to manage the negative consequences of sex without boundaries rather than promote a standard of sex within boundaries.

The context of sex has always been the real issue.

Sex is like fire. When fire gets outside of a contained boundary, it can cause fear and destruction. When sex is within the context of a mutually monogamous committed relationship, like marriage, it is safe and fun. When sex is introduced into an uncommitted relationship without social, familial, intellectual and physical boundaries, it can be destructive and devastating.

The Planned Parenthood sorts believe that boundaries should be eliminated as long as sex is consensual, while proponents of abstinence believe that the best boundary for sex is marriage. Many in the squishy middle are ambivalent, fearful, throwing up their hands, and simply want teens to make it to adulthood without too many scars. They've embraced the default message of just promoting "Safe Sex" rather than thinking through the implications of that message. And so the ideological social wars remain heated between those promoting sex without consequences and those advocating for established boundaries for sex that are consistent with their values, and the public's health.

Keeping in mind that over the past 17 years abstinence education programs have primarily targeted teens 17 and younger, what are the national facts?

  1. Currently, more than 73% of teens aged 15-17 surveyed have not had sex.
  2. Teen pregnancy rates for 15-17 year olds have declined 50% since 1990.
  3. Teen birth rates for 15-17 year olds are down 55% since 1991.
  4. Teen birth rates in general are at an all time low.
  5. Abortion rates are also down.
  6. Less than 8% of unwed births are to girls under 18 while nearly 75% are to women 18-29.

Yet, political and media ideologues continue to hammer the public with propaganda that abstinence education efforts have failed and should never be funded.

However, HIV/AIDS is still epidemic globally, high infertility rates due to STDs prevent parents from having their own children, and abortion reduces the numbers of babies available for adoption. We need much more than "Safe Sex"/Contraception-only education to protect and promote the sexual health of our children and future generations.

Scientifically and sociologically, abstinence-until-marriage and fidelity-within-marriage are still the best sexual health messages for our nation. Neither of which introduce risk.

What will it take in our culture for science to trump ideology? (After all, the scientific method was developed to end speculation by producing objective facts.)

Heritage Keepers® Abstinence Education was recently approved by US Health and Human Services (HHS) as an evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention program. HHS contracted with Mathematica Policy Research to conduct an independent and systematic review of programs effective in reducing teen pregnancy, STI's and related sexual risk behaviors. Heritage Keepers® is the first and only abstinence-until-marriage program to be placed on the Federal List.

What is the fundamental difference between Heritage Keepers® and all of the other programs listed? The context of sex. The other 30 programs on the list don't give a boundary for sex, and some encourage teens to have sex whenever they feel they are ready.

Heritage Keepers® spent the past 17 years honing and perfecting a science-based abstinence approach to teen pregnancy prevention that enables students and adults to understand and own for themselves the benefits of delaying sexual activity until they are in a mutually monogamous committed relationship, such as marriage. This science-based approach ensures that it is not just a "feel good" message.

Using scientifically proven predictors of teen sexual activity researched by Dr. Stan Weed from the Institute for Research and Evaluation, the Heritage Keepers® program was developed with sound theory and methodology, and was independently evaluated to determine if teens' behavioral intentions could be positively impacted by their educators.

After teaching over 150,000 students in South Carolina the benefits of abstaining from all sexual activity until marriage and the benefits of a healthy marriage, Heritage Keepers® knew early on that it could and was changing student attitudes and behaviors about sex, even a year after the program was taught. The most recent evaluations have proven that:

A year after the program,
Heritage Keepers® students
abstained at a rate 3 times greater
than similar non-program students.

The Heritage Keepers® study included sexually experienced and inexperienced students in 7th, 8th, and 9th grades. Heritage Keepers® is equally effective with African-American, White, male and female students, with 67% of the Heritage Keepers® students African-American.

Flash back to April 2008, when Rep. Henry Waxman (D, Calif.) called for Congressional hearings on Abstinence Education, stacked the panel with experts hostile to abstinence education and sought to discredit Dr. Stan Weed, a global authority on predictors of teen sex and abstinence education.

Dr. Weed's testimony included Heritage Keepers® as one of three successful abstinence education programs he had evaluated. Five other members of the panel set out to dispute Weed's testimony. However, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC),member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, exposed the bias of the panel by asking a simple question:

"If evidence showed abstinence education
was more or as effective
as comprehensive sex education,
would you support optional federal funding
for such programs?"

Five out of seven members of the panel said, "NO." Their responses made it obvious that they didn't care about science.

Now, four years to the month since Waxman's Hearing, Heritage Keepers® has "cracked the holy grail" as written by those antagonistic towards abstinence education and was approved as an evidence-based program for teen pregnancy prevention.

To the Planned Parenthood and Safe Sex Cartels, this is horrible! No longer can they claim that the only way to keep teens from producing babies is to teach them the 14 steps for using a condom, while aroused and/or to pump girls full of steroids and hormones to stop fertility.

Heritage Keepers® is proud of its accomplishments through years of hard work, and by virtue of making the HHS List of teen pregnancy prevention programs, are recognized as leaders in the abstinence movement. Heritage wants more abstinence-until-marriage programs to qualify as evidence-based.

But, will this stunning news for abstinence education be enough to restore, even optional, funding streams for abstinence education?

Is it too late for America?