Character Counts. But What About Young People’s Health?

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Character Counts. But What About Young People’s Health?

Ellen Marshall

The irony of President Bush’s "National Character Counts Week" has not gone unnoticed amidst the flurry of scandal in our nation’s capitol... But another – and more substantive – scandal is that the GAO (Government Accountability Office) found that that the federal health agency under the President’s authority is knowingly trying to skirt the law and is putting the health of American citizens at risk.

The non-partisan GAO found that the Department of Health and Human Services is failing to enforce the law requiring that organizations receiving federal grants to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases to provide medically accurate information about the effectiveness of condoms. Somehow HHS doesn’t think that organizations receiving our tax dollars to provide abstinence-only-until-marriage programs need to provide this medically-accurate information. The GAO disagrees.

The irony of President Bush’s "National Character Counts Week" has not gone unnoticed amidst the flurry of scandal in our nation’s capitol… But another – and more substantive – scandal is that the GAO (Government Accountability Office) found that that the federal health agency under the President’s authority is knowingly trying to skirt the law and is putting the health of American citizens at risk.

The non-partisan GAO found that the Department of Health and Human Services is failing to enforce the law requiring that organizations receiving federal grants to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases to provide medically accurate information about the effectiveness of condoms. Somehow HHS doesn’t think that organizations receiving our tax dollars to provide abstinence-only-until-marriage programs need to provide this medically-accurate information. The GAO disagrees.

Bill Smith of SIECUS hit the nail on the head: "For the better part of twenty-five years, abstinence-only-until-marriage programs have been permitted to use tax-payer dollars to lie about the effectiveness of condoms and the current Administration has, time and again, failed to hold these programs accountable for much of anything except cashing their grant checks."

And James Wagoner, President of Advocates for Youth, said: “Finally, it appears that the government will be forced to give young people all the facts about condoms and not just the negative spin from social conservatives. Hopefully, we will soon move forward with common sense sex education combining information about abstinence with information about condoms and birth control.”

Roe is gone. The chaos is just beginning.

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I guess the President is defining character pretty loosely, because for me – I think knowingly misinforming (should we call it lying?) young people about their health is a bad character trait.

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Campaign 2006