In Bush's Abstinence-Only Crusade=1/4 Of Teenage Girls Get STDs, I connected Bush's abstinence-only crusade to the high rate of STDs among America's teenage girls. Today I delve into the real motivation behind yet another harmful Bush policy.
What makes the abstinence-only mob's objection to sex ed truly sickening is that it is not all about "morality." As per usual, it's mostly about M-O-N-E-Y. (Natch).
Abstinence-only programs have become big business. Big Republican campaign contributor business. Under the leadership of a Republican Congress and as escalated by George Bush, abstinence-only has swelled to a $1 billion boondoggle.
Ten months ago The Nation exposed this industry for what it is in The Abstinence Gluttons:
Over the past six years George W. Bush's faith-based Administration and a conservative Republican Congress transformed the small-time abstinence-only business into a billion-dollar industry. These dangerously ineffective sexual health enterprises flourish not because they spread "family values" but because of generous helpings of the same pork-heavy gumbo Bush & Co. brought to war-blighted Iraq and Katrina-hammered New Orleans--a mix of back-scratching cronyism, hefty partisan campaign donations, high-dollar lobbyists, a revolving door for political appointees and a lack of concern for results.If you haven't already (and even if you have), please read the rest for a stunning tale spanning America, Africa and soon China. The featured cast of unsavory characters includes wingnut heroes James Dobson, Ruddy lobbyist and former RNC Chair Haley Barbour, former HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary/Medicaid fraud/all-around quack Eric Keroack and more.
One of the chief cooks is a media-shy 63-year-old Catholic multimillionaire, welfare privatizer and Republican donor named Raymond Ruddy. With close ties to the White House, federal health officials and Republican power brokers that date back to W.'s days as Texas governor, Ruddy has leveraged his generous wallet and insider muscle to push an ultraconservative social agenda, enrich a preferred network of abstinence-only and antiabortion groups, boost profits for his company and line the pockets of his cronies--all with taxpayer dollars.
Following the money swirling around Ruddy offers an eye-opening glimpse into the squalor at the heart of the abstinence-only project. One top Bush adviser left to take a job at Ruddy's charity, Gerard Health Foundation, and a senior officer at Ruddy's for-profit company, Maximus, left to take a top-level position at the Department of Health and Human Services. Leaders of Christian-right organizations that are Gerard grantees have gained advisory HHS positions--and their organizations have in turn received AIDS and abstinence grants to the tune of at least $25 million. Maximus itself has raked in more than $100 million in federal contracts during the Bush era...
"I can't think of another federal program where so much money was spent without any oversight and to such little effect," said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a national organization that promotes comprehensive sexual health policies. "It wasn't that policy-makers didn't know that abstinence-only didn't work. In 2000 the Institute of Medicine issued a scathing report on these programs. But they went full steam ahead despite the warning. It's beyond naïve. It's immoral."
It details how the the Bush Administration knowingly spends hundreds of millions of our tax dollars on harmful programs to further enrich fat cat Republican donors and their uber-conservative causes i.e. The Federalist Society, Americans for Tax Reform (we knew Grover would get a cut), Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council as well as the anti-Kerry Your Catholic Voice, sleazy 527 Common Sense Ohio and old school anti-choice Life, Liberty and Family. A generous tithe of these funds are plowed back into the Republican Party in campaign contributions and Conservative GOTV resources. Also well documented is the revolving door between these various conservative groups and the Bush Administration especially, and most dangerously, the Department of Health and Human Services.
Because of Bush's aggressive, immoral and unconscionable abstinence-only policy, a decade of teenagers are spectacularly misinformed. Earlier this week the Chicago Tribune's troubling story, Teens have sex but don't have the facts, vividly illustrates the pitfalls of this stick-your-head-in-the-sand mentality:
In a co-ed forum, the teens pondered contraception. One well-meaning young man stood and said aluminum foil could be used in lieu of a condom. Other teens offered up myths such as the efficacy of plastic baggies, having sex while standing and bathing right after sex.Aluminum foil?!?! WTF? In this age, where using a condom could literally be the difference between life and death, we're all too squeamish and puritanical to tell kids considering sex how to best protect themselves. The message sent to today's youth: Sex is dirty, dangerous and bad. No wonder they are so confused. If these they should make it through adolescence without contracting an STD, our kids have a lifetime of psychoanalysis to look forward to. It will probably take at least that long to pay for and undo the harm caused by abstinence-only "education."
In the finale: Bush's Abstinence-Only Crusade Exported=Death.
(We're lucky our kids aren't African).