Abstinence-only programs could lose federal funding - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Abstinence-only programs could lose federal funding

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - Abstinence-only versus comprehensive sex education - that's what Congress plans to debate this Spring as lawmakers consider eliminating funds for abstinence-only programs.

Deborah Hester, CEO of Girls, Incorporated of Memphis, says a new federal study shows teens in abstinence-only programs are just as likely to have sex as those who skip them.

"Research shows they're not effective," she said. "The programs that are effective are the ones that are abstinence-based, but also have the other contraceptives and additional information."

Congress held is first-ever hearing to discuss cutting community-based abstinence education funding.
Reverend Kenneth Robinson, M.D. of Saint Andrew A.M.E. Church in Memphis, says his STARS Program (Sisters Taking A Righteous Stand) stands to lose its federal funding.

"I would be extraordinarily in favor of any and all public and private support for encouraging young women and young men to not be sexually involved prematurely," he said.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics' most recent survey, Mississippi ranks number one in teen births across America. Arkansas ranks fourth and Tennessee is eighth in the number of teens having babies.

While Robinson prefers teens abstain from sex, he admits you can't keep your head in the sand.

"I'm quite clear that we're living in the year 2009 and adolescents need multiple approaches and multiple solutions," he said.

No matter how people view sex education, both sides have the same goal: to curb the recent spike in teen pregnancy.

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