U-S- Department of Health and Human Services

HHS Attempted To Coverup Its Own Research: Abstinence Education Works

The reaction to Tuesday's announcement that Governor Bob McDonnell has applied for federal funds for abstinence-centered education has been intense (see Washinton Post Virginia Politics Blog). As you would suspect, Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia have opened rhetorical fire on the governor, as have several leftist blogs and commentators. If you read the comments at the end of newspaper articles (and unless you have a thick skin I wouldn't) you would think the decision to help our teenagers delay sexual activity until marriage is a conspiracy to bring back chastity belts. You may be running into some of the same misinformed rhetoric in your circles, much of it based on false claims or outright deception. Of course, those who profit from risky sexual behavior, Virginia's abortion industry, are viscerally opposed to the idea that teenagers can control themselves. One legislator who works closely with Planned Parenthood and NARAL carried this message (see Norfolk Virginian-Pilot):

The reality is with teenagers their hormones come into play, and abstinence-only doesn't always work.

Then again, if they can be taught effective ways of postponing sexual activity it cuts into the abortion industry's profits.

But the primary argument has been that "abstinence education doesn’t work," "parents don't support abstinence education," or "it’s naive to think that teenagers can be abstinent." None of those arguments, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are correct. In fact, this year a study paid for by HHS, and its own recent survey, found that abstinence education is highly effective and widely supported by parents and teenagers (Washington Post).

The HHS survey released late last month (see here) found that 70 percent of parents agreed that it is "against [their] values for [their] adolescents to have sexual intercourse before marriage" and that "having sexual intercourse is something only married people should do." Adolescent beliefs, according to the survey, were similar.

More interestingly, HHS buried the survey results and was forced to release it to the public only after a deluge of Freedom of Information Act requests (as reported by Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential). Why, one must ask, would HHS not want people to know the results of taxpayer funded research — results that show Americans want and support abstinence before marriage?

Let’s face it, the battle over sex education is indeed a battle of worldviews and a battle for the hearts, minds, and bodies of our children. The fact is that abstinence centered programs do work and they are making a difference — science is showing that. It’s up to us to get the word out.

We hope that if you haven't already, that you please thank Governor McDonnell for taking this strong stand on abstinence education funding by clicking here to e-mail his office. Abstinence opponents are well-funded and are on the attack. We have to show the governor that the families of Virginia appreciate his action. Please contact him today.

Help Maintain Medical Conscience Protections!

Thanks to our friends at The Virginia Catholic Conference — who do fantastic work keeping up with federal issues, especially regulatory matters that don't require Congressional action and therefore aren't in a big a media spotlight — we have an urgent reminder that the Obama Administration is losing no time in trying to force medical workers of faith into providing services they find objectionable. On February 27, it announced its intention to remove current regulations, put in place by the Bush Administration late last year, that protect conscience rights in health care. On March 10, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a formal proposal to rescind these regulations, thereby activating a 30-day period for the public to submit comments. 

The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment has devised an Action Alert explaining why the regulations should be retained and providing directions on how to submit comments to HHS (click here). E-mail messages can be sent directly through the NCHLA Action Center. A preset message is provided, to which the sender can add personal comments. 

Please submit your comments before the April 9 deadline! 

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has set up a special Web site with that provides a wealth of information and resources on conscience protection (click here), including a link to the NCHLA Action Center message. We encourage you to visit that site and others to fully arm yourself on the issue.  

Churches are encouraged to display the NCHLA and USCCB links on their Web pages. Highlighting the critical importance of the current conscience regulations, Cardinal Francis George, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said:

They are "one part of the range of legal protections for health care workers — for doctors, nurses and others — who have objections in conscience to being involved in abortion and other killing procedures that are against how they live their faith in God." 

Removing these conscience regulations "would be the first step in moving our country from democracy to despotism."

The Obama HHS promises to be as destructive as ever toward the unborn. Its secretary-designate, Kathleen Sebelius, a Catholic, was the most pro-abortion-on- demand governor in the country before her nomination. He extremist policy positions prompted Archbishop Raymond L. Burk to call her an "embarrassment" (Catholic News Agency). It will take every possible effort to counter the new adminstration's pro-abortion initiatives. Pro-life Virginia activists responded in numbers to impress upon the Bush Administration how important these medical professional conscience protections are (see previous commentary). A redoubled effort is required to convince the Obama Administration to retain them.

Tragic Intentions Undetected

Over the last few weeks a tragedy has come to light in Richmond. In January, an abortion happened on the watch of Commonwealth Catholic Charities, which is run by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond (one of the two Catholic dioceses that encompass Virginia's Catholic population). Four people who worked for the organization aided a 16-year-old Guatemalan in getting an abortion and in the implantation of a contraceptive device. The four, who were fired, either ignored Catholic teaching on birth control and abortion or were somehow unaware of it (the organization employs non-Catholics). Most appalling was that one of them, who had no legal standing, signed an abortion consent form required from a minor's parent or legal guardian — in direct violation of Virginia law.

The Guatemalan's only legal guardian is the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement's Department of Unaccompanied Children's Services. Catholic Charities is one of several organizations that provide care for refuge children under the department's custody. Since Catholic teaching forbids abortion and federal policies prohibit it except in rare situations, the girl should not have been able to secure an abortion.

Quite clearly, a law was broken. But Richmond City Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Herring looked into this only briefly and determined that although what the former employee did was wrong and illegal, he would not prosecute her because he believes she had no intent.

Since when does ignorance of the law stop at abortion? Or, how about, I swindled that widow's money, but my intent wasn't to make her life miserable, I just wanted to buy myself a new Porsche? There's all sorts of byproducts of committing crimes that don't include intent, but that doesn't excuse prosecution. Ignorance never has. Besides, since when is mind reading part of a prosecutor's required job skills? Isn't the application of the law supposed to be dispassionate?

Not only that, aren't they supposed to keep evidence and suspicions close to the vest? But in interviews with the media in announcing that he would investigate, Mr. Herring basically gifted the former employee a Get Out of Jail Card, as he did in this July 9 Richmond Times-Dispatch article:

Herring said prosecution will depend on his findings. He said he also would consider the intention of the social worker who signed the consent form.

"Let's suppose that a woman in good faith thought it was OK for her to sign the form," he said. "I would not feel comfortable prosecuting. But if she behaved in bad faith, if she tried to use this incident to make a statement, which doesn't make sense considering who she worked for, then I would be considerably less sympathetic."

Regardless of that, did Mr. Herring ask the former employee if he or she thought to check with the Catholic Charities' executive director before executing such a drastic and controversial action? Even if this person wasn't aware of Catholic teaching, even if avoiding the boss' permission is an internal matter (doesn't the absence of such consultation seem strange in such a situation?), wouldn't that give insight into the motivation — i.e., intent — of this person?

Mr. Herring has done a commendable job in his first term — one reason Richmond's crime rate has dropped. He also forcefully testified, as spokesman for the Commonwealth Attorneys' Association, at the Senate Education and Health Committee this past General Assembly regular session in favor of the fetal homicide bill. In fact, he forcefully told the committee if it killed it (which it predictably did), "We will be back in front of you next year." He also is the Herring in Richmond Medical Center vs. Herring, the case in front of the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, testing the constitutionality of Virginia's partial birth abortion ban — which means he is the one being sued by the pro-abortionists. So with this background, we are doubly perplexed, and more than disappointed, in Mr. Herring's refusal to pursue this abomination vigorously.

Furthermore, what of the abortionist who willingly accepted this consent form? The man from Mars wouldn't have been that gullible. This person obviously saw an opening to take sad advantage of the situation and did so without hesitation. If one is looking for intent, that's probably the only one applicable in this whole sordid, tragic matter. But apparently, for some, this is the one law where that does not matter. Media reports indicate federal officials also are looking into aspects of this crime. We hope they come to a much different conclusion than Mr. Herring.