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Claimed 'science' is just liberal ideology
Letter to the Editor
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Published: 1/12/2009 12:07 AM

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The unwarranted attack on abstinence education continues unabated, as reflected in a recent article you printed written by Ellen Goodman. Attempting to prove the preconceived conclusion that abstinence education fails, a research study published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health claims that abstinence pledges made by teens are ineffective.

Ellen Goodman used that study to conclude abstinence education "simply doesn't work." Note that the ages chosen for the study were 17-year-olds with follow-up at age 22.

Most abstinence programs focus on younger teens so factors such as age of introduction and sufficient reinforcement of the abstinence message are ignored in reaching this study's conclusions.

No attempt was made to determine if the abstinence pledges delayed sexual activity, but this study simply concluded that if sexual activity had occurred by age 22, then the abstinence pledge had failed. The conclusions of this study amount to a serious oversimplification of a complex situation.

Since other studies have shown positive outcomes from abstinence programs, the conclusions from this one limited study are questionable at best. In fact, the details buried in this study appear to support conclusions almost completely opposite those reached by the study's authors.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow on domestic policy at the Heritage Foundation, commented on conclusions that should be considered.

"It was really quite extraordinary that you find in this survey that kids who took this very brief exposure to virginity pledges have dramatically better life outcomes compared to kids from the same socio-economic background," Rector stated.

He said it included "dramatically lower rates of teen births, abortion rates down, teen sex down, out of wedlock births down, number of sexual partners down a third to a half compared to kids from a similar socio-economic backgrounds."

In other words, the conclusions reached by the John Hopkins study ignore the overwhelming facts on the benefits of abstinence education by focusing on one questionable conclusion about virginity pledges that supports the anti-abstinence-education agenda. Liberal ideology is presented as science once again.

William Beckman

Executive Director Illinois Right to Life Committee