Peace Decries Governor’s Proposal to End Abstinence Education Funding

Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Mechanicsville) strongly opposes Governor Kaine’s proposal to eliminate $275,000 in funding from the upcoming biennial budget for five statewide non-profit programs that teach abstinence education. In a statement encouraging the Governor to continue funding for these programs, Peace said “I find it hard to believe that in a $74 billion state budget the Governor chose to target our teens with this fringe position. We should not only promote but encourage abstinence. This is the only way to work towards prevention of STD's, and unwanted pregnancies while saving millions in taxpayer funds.” Abstinence only education programs are an appropriate alternative to other programs that should be available to parents, children, school systems and other organizations. The proposed elimination of $275,000 in funding from the biennial budget helps make these programs available, at least on a limited basis. There is no sound rationale for eliminating this funding.

One survey found that eight of 10 Virginia parents want their children to be taught abstinence as part of a comprehensive sex-education program. Since these programs started the teenage pregnancy rate in Virginia has declined, and the cost of teenage childbearing has been reduced. According to the Virginia Department of Health, in 2004, the decline in the teenage pregnancy rate saved Virginia taxpayers nearly $135 million.

Teens in Virginia and throughout the nation are receptive to messages about abstaining from sex, according to recent analysis. Data collected in an on-going evaluation of abstinence programs funded by the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Virginia Abstinence Education Initiative mirror the national findings. Students participating in the evaluation say they strongly agree that having sex as a teenager would make it harder for them to study and stay in school in the future.

Goal 2015 is a campaign to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate in Virginia to no more than 47.5 per 1000 females 15 to 19 by the year 2015. To continue to reduce the teen pregnancy rate it is important to involve teens, parents, and policy makers. Vital to this effort is support at the state and local levels. Some people may view teen pregnancy as a problem that only affects teens and their families, but in reality teenage pregnancy impacts every aspect of the community.

“It is vital to the Commonwealth that we examine the cost of teenage childbearing. By identifying the cost to taxpayers at both the state and federal levels, we can show the significant broader economical impact of teenage childbearing, thus highlighting the need for involvement in the issue beyond the health and human services fields,” stated Delegate Peace.