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Does Abstinence Education Lead to More or Fewer Abortions?

By    |   Thursday, 23 April 2015 04:23 PM

The impact of abstinence-only education on school-age children and their sexual activity, including pregnancies and abortions, is much-debated and controversial.

Dollars are typically allocated federally to both abstinence-only programs and to comprehensive sexual education programs, and researchers have looked at numerous outcomes and assessments to determine how those two different approaches impact issues.

While there is little to no research about the impact of abstinence-only programs on abortions, the issue can be looked at in terms of how such education affects sexual activity.

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Here are four studies about abstinence-only sexual education and its impact on the sexual activity of youth:

1. In 2007, the Mathematica Policy Research Institute explored the outcomes of four abstinence-based educational programs.The study looked at sexual behavior, as well as knowledge of risks associated with teen sexual behaviors. The researchers determined that the group of teens who received abstinence-only education were no more likely or unlikely than their peers to abstain from sex, and used protection at the same rate as the control group.

2. In 2009, researched published in Sexuality Research and Social Police examined 56 different studies and the impact of abstinence-only sex ed and comprehensive sex ed on adolescent sexual behavior.

"Study results indicated that most abstinence programs did not delay initiation of sex and only 3 of 9 had any significant positive effects on any sexual behavior," according to the study's abstract.

"In contrast, about two thirds of comprehensive programs showed strong evidence that they positively affected young people's sexual behavior, including both delaying initiation of sex and increasing condom and contraceptive use among important groups of youth. Based on this review, abstinence programs have little evidence to warrant their widespread replication; conversely, strong evidence suggests that some comprehensive programs should be disseminated widely."

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3. A 2008 study built on previous studies regarding virginity pledges — the personal vows by students to remain virgins, usually until marriage — and their impact on sexual activity.

Researchers determined that adolescents who made virginity pledges were 8 percent more likely than their peers to refrain from having sex. However, they were equally likely to participate in anal or oral sex. The virginity pledge did not appear to affect condom usage, as teens who made the pledge were just as likely as their peers to use condoms if they had sex. A Kaiser Family Foundation study, however, found that students who took virginity pledges were less likely to use contraception.

4. A 2008 study published in the American Journal of Health Behavior found a significant difference in sexual initiation between teens who had abstinence education and those who did not.

In the control group, about 16.4 percent of the participants had lost their virginity in the one-year period following the study, while 9.2 percent of the students who received abstinent education had lost their virginity.

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The impact of abstinence-only education on school-age children and their sexual activity, including pregnancies and abortions, is much-debated and controversial.
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Thursday, 23 April 2015 04:23 PM
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