Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Abstinence Education Under Fire Despite Great Success

On Tuesday, speakers at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., announced that two new studies have joined the growing list of research demonstrating the efficacy of abstinence education. Despite a plethora of evidence to this effect, Democrats in Congress still want to discontinue or reduce federal funding of abstinence education. A study by Dr. Stan Weed, of the Institute of Research and Evaluation, evaluated the role of abstinence education in decreasing the sexual activity of students in Virginia’s middle schools. The program achieved a significant reduction in teen sexual initiation. Also, Christine Kim and Robert Rector, of The Heritage Foundation, released their comprehensive review of 21 previous studies of the effectiveness of abstinence and virginity pledge programs. Sixteen of the 21 studies of abstinence education reported lower levels of sexual activity among students who had studied abstinence. It is not surprising that new studies confirm what we have known all along: discussing and teaching abstinence provides a valuable service to children and their families. The focus on condoms in so-called “safe-sex” education classes cannot compare to abstinence education in any way. Nevertheless, Congress needs to recognize the success of abstinence education and appropriate federal funding.

Today, Congressman Henry Waxman (Democrat, California), an aggressive opponent of abstinence education, brought in seven witnesses to testify to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is deliberating on federal funding options for sexual education. Waxman stacked the deck with anti-abstinence education witnesses. Six of the seven witnesses testifying opposed abstinence education. As the only witness offering testimony on the efficacy of abstinence education, Dr. Weed pointed out that most studies demonstrate that abstinence education clearly works better than comprehensive “safe-sex” education and its reliance on encouraging teens to be sexually active and use condoms.

The Heritage Foundation Study

Friday, April 11, 2008

UFI President in Kosovo to Address Constitutional Issues

UFI President Carol Soelberg is in Pristina, Kosovo working with pro-family/pro-life coalition allies for the purpose of commenting on the draft of a new constitution’s treatment of social values. Carol filed this report:

I am safely in Kosovo. It was a long, but good trip. I am meeting many wonderful people here and our agenda continues to add new appointments. Our goal is to actually start a few grassroots organizations that will help convey our message when we leave. Our fear is that the newly formed government is moving from "dependence" under the ruling of the United Nations to unelected international bureaucrats, as opposed to their own independent rule.

The man who picked me up from the airport told me a fascinating story. He is an Albanian and has lived here with his family all his life. In 1999, all Albanians were called to the city center for a "rally." When they arrived, they learned that they were all to be killed on the spot. The commander in charge could not bring himself to do such a dastardly deed, so he put all 8,000 people in trucks and drove them to Albania, where they had to stay for three months until things settled down some. They left without any clothes or supplies, but were grateful to be alive.

Our coalition team of legal and human rights experts is meeting with top government officials and religious leaders about the draft constitution. The team comes from some of the most influential non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the United States and Europe that focus on social policies related to constitutional and international law, human rights and international institutions. I am representing United Families International here. The team consists of members from: the Alliance Defense Fund, Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, Concerned Women for America, Chrétiens Démocrates Fédéraux, Action pour la famille-Actie, Educational Initiative for Central and Eastern Europe, Human Life International, Alliance of Romania's Families and Advocates Europe.

The group is concerned that aspects of the draft constitution removes any ability for Kosova to determine what issues are constitutionally protected. For instance, language in the draft could be misinterpreted to promote certain rights including special rights for “sexual orientation” leading to same-sex “marriage," a right to abortion. The coaliton is also concerned that the draft could violate the rights of conscience of Kosovar professionals and limit speech, media, assembly and association, preventing any public expression of unpopular viewpoints – the viewpoints that most need constitutional protection.

We are meeting with senior government officials and we also held a press conference today. This weekend, the group will provide a lecture at the University of Pristina and meet with religious leaders.

Our purpose is to comment on the substance of the constitution, not to address the question of independence.

UFI vs. European Union: The Fight to Keep Abortion Rights Language out of UN Document

Marcia Barlow, UFI’s director of international policy, is at the United Nations attending the annual International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). She filed this report today:

What seemed like a very tame day Wednesday turned out to be not so great. Late that day, Nan Kennelly, leader of the U.S. delegation here, introduced family-friendly language to the ICPD’s outcome document, in several places. She used language that I drafted -- eight words in total. The United States delegation is one of the key allies for UFI and our coalition efforts to defend the traditional family from the ongoing assault by anti-family change agents.The family language is included the document at present, but isn’t popular. Kennelly said that when she introduced the language there was a "huge groan" from the assembly of delegations. The negotiating group permitted the European Union (EU) to pack the document with sexual and reproductive health services language. Thus, the standoff that we face at all of these social conferences at the UN was set.

The EU refuses to accept any descriptive terms that refer to the traditional family in singular terms, preferring instead to promote the more politically correct term “families.” As in the multiple forms of families -- broken, headed by homosexual adult(s) and cohabiting households that result in extraordinary costs to government social agencies. UFI believes it is in the best interests of governments to work to strengthen marriages and the family in order to assure healthy communities which require less drain on taxpayer-funded social costs. A group of EU member nations introduced an amendment to the ICPD document which would add three sentences on “reproductive health services” – code language for abortion. Now we've got a real problem. Our pro-family coalition was greatly alarmed by this development. It will take hard work to remove the reproductive health services language, and it may result in losing the pro-family language introduced by the U.S. That is precisely what has happened during past ICPD assemblies.

It is pretty much a waiting game now. We have our usual vigil going outside the negotiating room. Utilizing UFI’s “United Nations Negotiating Guide,” we are pulling up all the past conference documents and language precedents that we can to refute the bad language and we are doing everything we can to persuade delegations to remove the EU-preferred terminology.
More as things develop …