(CNSNews.com) – Abstinence is the only 100 percent effective method for avoiding unintended pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV, Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) said Thursday, adding that it was “essential that our young people learn the risks and consequences of their choices.”
Speaking at a Capitol Hill briefing promoting “sexual risk avoidance” (SRA), or abstinence-based education, in schools, Pitts called for more funding.
“We may live in a culture that seeks instant gratification today but it is essential that our young people learn the risks and consequences of their choices,” he said.
“They must learn that sexuality is sacred and that it entails awesome responsibility of creating new human beings.”
“Government can’t love you, nothing can replace the solid foundation of the family’s unconditional love and support,” he continued. “Children who grow up without that are vulnerable to seeking conditional love, false love from all the wrong places.”
He added that “over one third of US children live with a single parent, the highest proportion among all developed countries.”
Pitts pointed to statistics, backed up by a December Pew Research study, linking extramarital sexual behavior to poverty.
He added that even President Obama, who he said “has aggressively pursued a pro-abortion and anti-marriage agenda throughout his career,” recognizes that – to quote the president’s remarks on Father’s Day in 2010 – “children who grow up without a father are more likely to live in poverty, they’re more likely to drop out of school, they’re more likely to wind up in prison.”
Thursday’s briefing was hosted by the Family Research Council (FRC) and ASCEND (formerly the National Abstinence Education Association).
Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) promoted his Healthy Relationships Act which would increase funding for SRA education.
It requires SRA programs to address topics that include “the benefits associated with personal responsibility, success sequencing (sequential progression through: completing school, securing a job, and marrying before bearing children)” as well as “the research-based advantage of reserving sexual activity for marriage.”
Hultgren also applauded the omnibus funding bill for FY2016 which doubled funding for sexual risk avoidance programs from $5 to $10 million and replaced the term “abstinence education” for “sexual risk avoidance” – to “reflect the overriding health benefits teens experience when they forgo sexual activity.”
Long-term contraception ‘too simplistic’
ASCEND CEO Valerie Huber told the briefing the sequence for success is: “Graduate, get a full time job, and then wait until you are at least 21 and married before having children.”
“It seems simple, but it’s backed up by science,” she said.
Huber noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a recent report encouraged the use of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) in teen pregnancy prevention.
However, she said, “LARC offers absolutely no protection against STDs and it’s important if they use LARC then to also use a condom to help protect against STDs.”
She cited CDC statistics that almost one in four teen boys and four in ten teen girls don’t use condoms.
“LARC is too simplistic of an answer – partially because there’s no protection against STDs, partially because there’s very little research on LARC and how it interacts with the teen body, but mostly because it ignores the complex nature of sex,” Huber concluded.
“We would argue that sexual risk avoidance is actually the better option,” she added. “Teens avoiding sexual activity, that’s where the research is pointing to for optimal outcomes for young people.”
Dr. Lora Overton, an OBGYN and executive director of a crisis pregnancy center, spoke of having to break the news to a 13-year-old girl and her mother that the girl had an STD that could render her infertile.
“Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, whether you’re black or white, gay or straight, we can all agree on this one fact: No 13-year-old should have to be worried about sexually transmitted diseases,” she said.
“Sexual risk avoidance teaches that 13-year-old how to have pride in herself, how to love herself enough that she doesn’t have to give herself away to every boy,” Overton explained. “It teaches her self-respect, to love herself.”
“Pregnancy is not the only problem. Pregnancy sometimes is the least of your problems. Just this year I’ve had to talk to two young girls under the age of twenty-one with HIV because of sexual practices,” she said.
“Something has got to change and we have got to change the way we talk to our young people and what we do with our young people so that they can live a full life … without risking diseases that will affect them for the rest of their lives.”