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Data Show Teen Birthrate on the Rise

Failed Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs May be Part of the Problem

New York, NY – Data released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the teen birthrate in the United States jumped 3% from 2005 to 2006 after more than 15 years of steady decline.

“This is obviously extremely bad news,” said Martha Kempner, vice president for information and communications at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).  “Decreasing the teen birthrate is a goal that virtually everyone across the ideological spectrum agrees on, and these numbers clearly show that what we are doing is not working.”

The numbers were released at a point when Congress is considering increasing federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs by $28 million next year, even though numerous studies, including one funded by the federal government and released by Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. in April, have shown that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are ineffective in changing sexual behavior.  Total federal funding for abstinence-only-until marriage programs last year was more than $176 million.  In contrast, there are no dedicated federal funds for comprehensive sexuality education.

“The Bush administration picked which horse it was going to back a long time ago: abstinence-only-until-marriage programs,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at SIECUS.  “After all of these years and more than a billion dollars poured into failed programs, what do we have to show for it?  A giant step backwards.  Congress needs to take this opportunity to shift its strategy regarding abstinence-only-until-marriage funding.”

Despite the overwhelming federal funding and support they’ve received, members of the abstinence-only-until-marriage industry are shirking any responsibility for the increase in the teen birthrate.

“This is an example of the hypocritical and deceitful nature of the abstinence-only-until-marriage industry.  Until the day before these numbers came out, they were trying to claim every bit of the credit for the declining teen birthrates.  Now that the results are in, they’re washing their hands of it,” said Kempner.

Recently, a letter sent to congressional leadership by 10 leading public health researchers urged congress to stop funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, warning that the programs withhold “potentially life-saving information,” and questioning the reasonableness of encouraging young people to abstain from sexual activity until they are married. 

“These numbers are just the latest piece of evidence that we’ve seen this year alone showing that we are clearly on the wrong track,” Kempner said. “Stay the course is not an option when young people’s futures are at stake.  We need to change direction and start funding evidence-based prevention programs that will work,” Kempner concluded.

With any other questions or information requests contact Patrick Malone at or (212) 819-9770 ext. 316.