Abstinence-ed veto wrong - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Abstinence-ed veto wrong

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Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2003 7:31 pm | Updated: 2:16 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Although most of her line-item vetoes were defensible, Gov. Napolitano couldn't resist a jab at conservatives by killing a promising abstinence-education program for young teens.

Napolitano told Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services that teaching sexual abstinence is not government's job. By that logic, does she believe all sex education should be banished from schools?

Of course not. Liberals favor “how to” sex education that may even include making condoms available, while conservatives favor a “why you shouldn’t” message. Actually, sound research supports both approaches.

The federally sponsored National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health found that rates of depression and suicide are dramatically higher among teenagers who are sexually active. According to the conservative Heritage Foundation, which analyzed the data and supports abstinence education, “the study found that sexually active girls were three times more likely — and boys twice as likely — to say they felt depressed ‘most of the time or all of the time,’ than teens who weren't sexually active.”

That's something teenagers should know — as well as that abstinence is the most reliable way to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Meanwhile, the American Journal of Public Health last month published study results showing that teens in Massachusetts schools with sex education programs that included making condoms available to students actually were less sexually active (42 percent) than students in schools without such programs (49 percent). Furthermore, students in schools where condoms were available from a nurse or gym teacher were more likely to use them (66 percent) than students in the non-condom schools (49 percent).

While we're not advocating condom programs in Arizona schools, research indicates teenagers benefit from comprehensive sexuality education — including information about birth control and abstinence.

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