BUDGET: Wilson Includes Funding For Abstinence-Only Programs
A "little-noticed section" of Gov. Pete Wilson's new state budget "calls for spending $7.2 million in federal welfare reform money and $5.4 million in local and private funds for an abstinence-only sex education program," the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. California "now spends about $200,000 a year on abstinence-only community programs." The state has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation. Wilson spokesperson Lisa Kalustian said, "No single program or approach is a magic bullet that is going to solve all the problems. But abstinence is an absolutely valid message. It is a valuable tool." However, Planned Parenthood of California opposes Wilson's approach, saying that "abstinence-only education denies sexually active teenagers crucial information about preventing such diseases as AIDS." Kristy Wiese, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, said, "By the time teens hear the abstinence-only message, most already are sexually active." Wiese said the allotted funding "would be better spent on after-school programs dealing with issues that put teenagers at risk of pregnancy -- low self-esteem, drugs and alcohol and poor academic performance."
A New Message
Wilson administration officials said the program could begin as early as September 1 if it is approved by the state Legislature. "[L]ocal health departments, boys and girls clubs and church groups" could participate in the program, which would require local groups "to match the federal funds on a basis of $3 for every $4 sought." The AP/Times notes that the latest proposal is "Wilson's second try with abstinence education." His 1995 "Learn Now and Babies Later" program was scrapped because of poor results (2/24).