Abstinence Education: Texas Boosts Funding While Cutting HIV Research

Abstinence education could receive a boost in funding if a new Republican-backed measure in Texas is enacted, while HIV research would be taking cuts as part of the same legislation.

State Democrats were soundly opposed to the measure, which the Associated Press notes was “tucked into the state budget Tuesday night.”

The measure would remove $3 million in funds for HIV research and redistribute those funds to abstinence education programs.

Rep. Stuart Spitzer, the Republican who sponsored the amendment (also a doctor), found that pushing abstinence as a viable alternative to sexually transmitted diseases and fighting against unwanted pregnancies was a better use of the money, pointing to his own life as proof on the floor of the Texas House.

“What’s good for me is good for a lot of people,” he said, noting that school children would be better served following his own example of waiting until marriage before engaging in sexual activity.

“I’ve had sex with one woman in my life and that’s my wife,” he added.

Democratic Rep. Harold Dutton then responded, “Is that the first woman you asked?”

“Decorum!” shouts were then heard throughout the House, the AP report notes.

Planned Parenthood, while not outright endorsing abstinence over other forms of STD and pregnancy prevention, does note there are “few disadvantages” to the practice, adding that people “may find it difficult to abstain for long periods of time and may end their period of abstinence without being prepared to protect themselves against pregnancy or infection.”

The biggest disadvantage, and the one that most often divides conservatives and liberals on ideological lines, is that imposing abstinence or pushing it in lieu of other forms of sex ed places the onus on students to act responsibly without having a complete understanding of the outcomes of unprotected sex.

Conservatives claim that people should be more responsible with their bodies, but in so doing, they’re often accused of trying to dictate a person’s sexual proclivities.

Meanwhile, liberals often note that people will be people and since you cannot force someone to behave in a certain way sexually, you might as well educate them on the possible outcomes.

The Texas measure, however, has the added controversy of cutting HIV research funds in order to bolster abstinence — a move that could negatively affect HIV patients regardless of how they might have contracted the disease.

It’s this outlier that has many commenters on Reddit fuming.

“Prediction for 2016: Texas sees a spike in teen pregnancies.”

“There’s a strong correlation between abstinence only education, teen pregnancy rates, and STI rates: the states with a distinct history of abstinence-only education also have the highest rates of gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, etc, and have the highest rates of teen pregnancies.”

The latter comment pans out if you believe the CDC surveillance report on STIs.

Do you think abstinence education at the expense of HIV research should be re-thought by the Senate before the state makes its final decision? Sound off in the comments section.

[Image via ShutterStock]