Health Commission Approves Condoms for Teens
Special Report - February 8, 2008
The N.C. Commission for Public Health unanimously approved a rule change that will effectively force community programs seeking to reduce out-of-wedlock pregnancy to throw out true abstinence until marriage education and instead teach comprehensive sex education and refer teens to family planning services. As part of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives, the State grants taxpayer funding to community organizations that provide pregnancy prevention programs outside of school hours to teens who are at high-risk for pregnancy. The new rules require grant applicants to include plans: “to provide comprehensive sexuality education including complete and medically accurate information about contraceptive methods including abstinence to all participants,” and “to refer teens who have needs beyond the scope of the program including . . . family planning” (i.e. contraception and possibly abortion).
The Commission adopted the new rules in its regular meeting on February 6, 2008, after holding a public hearing in December and soliciting written comments from the public. North Carolina Family Policy Council Attorney Tami Fitzgerald attended the meeting and offered testimony on the proposed rules. She noted that three successful community-based programs currently utilize an abstinence until marriage approach and that these programs and other new programs would either be forced to change their approach or to cease their services, if the proposals are adopted. She urged the Commission to adopt policies based on successful outcomes instead of ideology.
Ms. Fitzgerald also pointed out that the rules are inconsistent with existing state law, which requires that public schools teach abstinence until marriage as the expected standard for all students in public school classrooms. “This proposed rule change would create an inconsistent standard, whereby abstinence is taught in the classroom and comprehensive sex education is taught after school,” she said. “This sends a mixed message to our teens and undermines the effectiveness of teaching abstinence in the classroom.”
Ms. Fitzgerald also stated that abstinence education is effective, resulting in a 39% decrease in adolescent pregnancy rates and cutting abortion rates in half in North Carolina since 1990. She noted a new federal government study that found that nine of the most popular comprehensive sex curricula weren’t that effective in delaying sexual activity or increasing condom usage. She also discussed two studies that have found that comprehensive sex education curricula discuss condoms and contraceptives up to seven times more than abstinence and devote less than five percent of their page content to promoting abstinence.
The Commission for Public Health debated the rule change for over 2 hours, but declined to go against the recommendation of its own Department of Public Health. The new rules must be approved by the Rules Review Commission before they can go into effect.
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.