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Abstinence-Only Sex Education

August 17, 1999

* I hope "Chastity Makes a Comeback" (Aug. 10) started a lot of parents and kids talking to each other. As a Christian, I agree with the importance of promoting a biblical understanding of sexual intimacy as a gift from God that is meant to be enjoyed only in the context of marriage. As a physician, I know the life-changing consequences of uninformed choices that lead to unplanned pregnancies and STDs, including HIV and AIDS. Even in 1999, abstinence is the only 100% reliable way to prevent them. As a 28-year-old man who just got married, I know the importance of waiting until our vows were exchanged before sharing the most personal parts of ourselves.

Sexual promiscuity is a significant part of the deterioration of the moral fabric of our society and a serious threat to the health of our young people, but the problem cannot be solved until it is addressed. True love does wait.



* There's absolutely no way schools are going to convince students not to have sex. They're fighting biology. They cannot win. So the $500 million in public money being spent on these programs is going down the toilet.

More important, there's nothing wrong with teenagers having sex. Sex is a means by which two people express certain feelings for each other. Why should adults have a monopoly on that?



* Abstinence-only education programs have not been proven to be more successful at preventing sexual activity than abstinence-based programs like those offered by Planned Parenthood. As we celebrate the recent decrease in teen pregnancy rates, it is important to note that while 20% of this reduction is due to decreased sexual activity, 80% is due to increases in the use of effective contraception.

Responsible sex education teaches teens that abstinence is the only 100% effective method of birth control. But it also provides them with the honest information they need in order to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy--information that abstinence-only programs funded by the federal government are prohibited from providing.

NANCY L. SASAKI, President

Planned Parenthood, L.A.

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