2007_9_health_fuzzybunny.jpgIs it possible that the New York State Health Department finally understands the futility and limitations of trying to keep teenagers from having sex? Instead of receiving and funneling nearly $4 million of federal funds into abstinence-only sex ed programs annually, it decided this week to forego the federal dollars and focus instead on programs dedicated towards teaching good sexual health and avoiding unwanted pregnancies.

Starting next month, state funds will be used to fuel more comprehensive sex education programs, removed from what State Health Commissioner, Richard F. Daines calls, "a failed national health care policy directive, based on ideology rather than on sound scientific-based evidence that must be the cornerstone of good public health care policy." The program was established in 1998 by the Clinton administration and carried on by the Bush terms. The losers in the decision include religious organizations that relied on the federal funding to run abstinence education programs and still feel that it should remain an option.

Dr. Daines shared that the decision stemmed from evidence that abstinence-only programs were not effective in presenting teen pregnancies. He also said that while he favors expanding the education programs to include teaching condom use, that discussions of abstinence should still be encouraged.

California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Connecticut have also rejected the federal funding. Previous to this decision, New York was second only to Texas in the amount of federal money it received to promote abstinence education.