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Utah Still Pushing Abstinence Education Despite a Rise in Teen Pregnancy & STDs

How many times do states need to push abstinence-only education before deciding that telling kids to just say no, just isn't working? In Utah's case, it seems like an awful lot. Thanks to Utah Senator, Orrin G. Hatch, the health bill, (which, thankfully, includes $375 million for comprehensive sex education), has set aside $250 million for abstinence funding.

Utah's teens have long had this brand of education. In fact, state law not only requires "emphasizing abstinence before marriage and fidelity after marriage," but it also prohibits teaching, "the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior; the advocacy of homosexuality; the advocacy or encouragement of the use of contraceptive methods or devices; or the advocacy of sexual activity outside of marriage."

So how's that working out for Utah? Apparently, not so well. A recent report found that between 2004 and 2008, Utah's teen birthrate grew by over 30%. During that time, chlamydia rates increased 70% among teen girls, while the rates of gonorrhea also rose at nearly that level.

Lynn Beltran, the HIV and STD program manager at Salt Lake Valley Health Department explained, “People want to say we don’t have a STD problem among teens here in Utah. We are here to say absolutely we do have a problem.”

Unfortunately, some of those people, say, Orrin Hatch, also seem to be dead set on forcing the rest of the country to absolutely have such problems as well.

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