NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 29, 2004

Funding for abstinence-only programs varies between states -- often due to politics; furthermore, studies have not demonstrated a significant link between the amount spent on such programs and the teen pregnancy rate, says USA Today.

An analysis of data from the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) reveals:

  • Combined federal and state spending on abstinence-only programs range from a high of $7.67 per pupil in Arkansas to 21 cents per pupil in New Hampshire; Ohio and Florida, both considered political battleground states, are among the states with the highest per-pupil expenditures.
  • Spending tends to reflect each state's political leanings; in more liberal California, for example, state law prohibits funding programs that teach only abstinence.

Limited data seems to suggest that teen pregnancy rates may not be affected by abstinence-only program expenditures:

  • South Dakota's teen pregnancy rate of 54 per 1,000 is close to Maine's rate of 52 per 1,000, yet the per-pupil expenditures ($6.56 and 85 cents, respectively), between the states vary greatly.
  • Moreover, the Centers for Disease Control reports that teens who pledged to wait until marriage before having sex had the same rate of sexually-transmitted diseases as teens who did not, although they were likely to wait longer before sex and have fewer partners.

However, observers note that current data is too limited to fully study the impact of abstinence-only programs on teen pregnancy rates.

Source: Steve Sternberg and Anthony DeBarros, "Abstinence-only Support Often Reflects State Politics," USA Today, June 23, 2004 and Adrienne Verrilli, "SIECUS Releases New Groundbreaking Publication: SIECUS State Profiles: A Portrait of Sexuality Education and Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs in the States," Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S., June 22, 2004.

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