By Worthy News Correspondent Rodney Drinnen
WASHINGTON D.C., USA (Worthy News) -- A day after his inauguration, United States President Barack Obama faced pressure to end funding for abstinence-only sex education.
The program, criticized by several pressure groups and officials, currently receives $176 million dollar annually, Worthy News learned Wednesday, January 21. "We believe the money that goes into it would be so much better used on things to prevent unwanted pregnancies,” said Louise Slaughter, Democratic Representative from New York. "I think we’ll have enough votes to deal with it," Slaughter added in published remarks.
Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, called the abstinence only program "a failure" that has "wasted" more than $1.5 billion over the past decade.
She said several “major studies” including a federally funded review haven’t found any evidence that the approach works in keeping teens from having sex. "Talking with Obama, he totally understands the need for young people to have comprehensive sex education – they need information that protects their health," Richards added.
Not everyone agrees. The State of Georgia has already said it wants to maintain the abstinence-only program, giving already $500,000 to the cause annually, because of declining pregnancy rates.
The Governor's Office for Children and Families' Executive Director, Jen Bennecke, told the Associated Press news agency that since Georgia began its education efforts, 11 years ago, teen pregnancies declined "by 50 percent."
Encouraged by these figures, Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, said Congress should allow "true choice" by approving both programs. “Now is not the time to remove even one of the tools that can help teens,” AP quoted her as saying.
She said that despite exceptions in some areas of the country, recent data showed an increase in teen births and sexually transmitted diseases among young people across the United States.
Under Obama, a debate is expected on whether sex outside marriage and other long term relationships is a moral, or a science-driven, issue.