Last week our Congress passed the 2010 Appropriations bill, which takes some important steps in the right direction for New Mexicans. We applaud the bill’s elimination of ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage funding; instead, the bill funds medically accurate, evidence-based comprehensive sex education. It seems that Congress is catching up with what we at Planned Parenthood have known all along—that a comprehensive approach to sex education is the most effective way to reduce unintended pregnancies in women of all ages.
Congress’ shift on funding for sex education makes sound fiscal sense. New Mexico ranks second in the country for teen births and third in the country for teen pregnancy. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, New Mexico taxpayers spent at least $86 million in 2004 alone on teen childbearing costs. Most of those costs are associated with negative consequences for the children of teen moms, such as Medicaid and SCHIP, child welfare, and lost tax revenue due to decreased earnings. Teen moms are less likely to seek prenatal care, and babies of teen moms are more likely to be low-birth weight. Sadly, 29 percent of children under 6 years old live in poverty in New Mexico.
Multiple studies have produced compelling evidence that students who participate in abstinence-only sex education neither stop nor delay sexual activity; yet, they are less prepared to prevent pregnancy and disease than those who attend comprehensive sex education programming. Between 1991 and 2004, New Mexicans have reduced our teen birth rate by 24 percent, and thereby reduced our associated tax burden an estimated $24 million in 2004 alone. This reduction is largely due to comprehensive sex education efforts and access to contraception, and is to be commended. But we can do better by our kids.
One in three teens receives no sex education at all before initiating sexual activity. And over 9 in 10 Americans have sex before marriage—and have for generations. Comprehensive sex education is not only fiscally responsible, but it is our moral imperative to prepare New Mexico’s youth to make responsible choices.
Jenny Black President/CEO Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, Inc.
National Security, Huh?
2009—it's the year that America finally went nuts. Average Americans snuck into the White House, and National Security is threatened? Hey, scary, dangerous people go in and out of the White House all the time—from Robert McNamara to Henry Kissinger to Don Rumsfeld and Karl Rove. People who have damaged America's prosperity and national security pass unmolested, bow and a wave, VIPs on the guest list. If we want to protect the chairs in the Green Room then make sure that Average Americans don't get in. But if we want to protect America itself, we should keep everyone who's ever been on the White House VIP list the hell out. We have been conditioned by the media to trust and respect people in Armani suits and thousand-dollar loafers, when really they are the only ones who should scare the hell out of us. America got in trouble when the question "Hey, where did your money COME from?" became to be considered in poor taste. Sometimes and rarely, money comes from genuine ability, but usually, it's squeezed out of someone else's hide.
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