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NAEA Launches Media Campaign Against Massachusetts Governor

On September 5th, the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) launched an advertising campaign which called on Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) to accept $700,000 in federal Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funding.  Massachusetts has received abstinence-only funding since 1997 and, for almost a decade, used the money to pay for public service announcements discouraging teenagers from having sex outside of marriage.  In 2006, Governor Mitt Romney announced that a portion of the Title V funding would be given to A Woman’s Concern crisis pregnancy center for its abstinence-only-until-marriage program, Healthy Futures. Romney explained, “We teach sex education, but there’s no portion of sex education which talks about the advantages of waiting.”  Governor Patrick, however, decided not to accept Title V funds at all, and, in July, vetoed a provision in a state budget measure that would have accepted the funds.

The ads sponsored by the NAEA told viewers to contact the governor and urge him to reverse his decision and accept the federal funding.  The print and radio ads said “Deval Patrick doesn’t want 11-year-olds taught to say ‘no’ to sex,” and asked, “Should 12-year-olds be having sex?”  Cyndi Roy, the governor’s press aid said in statement, “the administration believes students deserve comprehensive health education that includes scientifically based information related to human sexuality.”  Roy stated further “we support abstinence messages, but not at the exclusion of health information that we know will keep kids safe.”

In rejecting the funding, Patrick’s administration cited the Mathematica study which was commissioned by Congress and found that students who participate in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are just as likely to engage in sex as their peers.  In a radio appearance in August, Patrick said, “I support the idea of abstinence education.  I’m just not willing to do it with federal funds and strings attached.”  

William Smith, vice president for public policy at SIECUS applauded the Governor’s decision and said, “The NAEA’s ad campaign is a despicable and dishonest misrepresentation of the facts.”

Currently, 11 other states have rejected the federal government’s Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funding, and a dozen more are awaiting federal action to determine future participation.

References

  1. SIECUS State Profiles, (SIECUS 2006) <http://www.siecus.org/policy/states/2006/mandates/MA.html>.
  2. Jessica Fargen, “Abstinence group takes aim at gov over veto,” Boston Herald, 06 September 2007, accessed 27 September 2007 <http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/politics/view.bg?articleid=1029656>.
  3. Tom Benner, “Ads target Gov. Patrick over Abstinence Programs,” Patrio Ledger State House Bureau, 04 September 2007, accessed 27 September 2007 <http://www.patriotledger.com/articles/2007/09/04/news/news00c.txt>.
  4. Ibid.

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