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April 23, 2008

NARAL Pro-Choice America Commends Pro-Choice Leaders for Exposing Dangerous, Ineffective "Abstinence-Only" Programs

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) holds first-ever oversight hearing on Bush policy

Washington, DC - Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, called Congress' first-ever oversight hearing on Bush's "abstinence-only" policy a major first step in addressing the consequences of these dangerous and discredited programs.

The hearing, called by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, comes on the heels of a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that at least one in four teenage girls nationwide has a sexually transmitted infection.

"As a former teacher and elected state superintendent of schools, I must thank Chairman Waxman for giving attention to how 'abstinence-only' programs are putting our teens at risk," Keenan said. "For years, President Bush and his anti-choice allies in Congress pushed hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into these programs that simply don't work. Our teens need accurate information to stay healthy and protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and disease - and under the Bush 'abstinence-only' policy, they aren't getting it."

Keenan also said new members of the committee opened the door for congressional action to stop funds for these ineffective programs. "After eight years of Bush and his anti-choice congressional allies, fortunately now we have new pro-choice freshmen in Congress like Reps. Bruce Braley (D-IA), Paul Hodes (D-NH), John Sarbanes (D-MD), and Peter Welch (D-VT), to join Rep. Waxman and intercede on behalf of our teens. With freshmen like these, and pro-choice leadership, pro-choice Americans can see a real difference in Congress' approach to reproductive-health issues."

Keenan also said that, to date, at least 17 states, including Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, and Virginia, have found the "abstinence-only" programs so ineffective that they simply refuse to participate. NARAL Pro-Choice America will launch an email campaign tomorrow to mobilize activists across the country to contact their representatives and urge them to stop funding risky and discredited "abstinence-only" programs.

Read the testimony submitted by Nancy Keenan to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

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