|NPRECEDENTED!" SCREAMED Bruce Trigg of the New Mexico Department of Public Health. "Shocking!" lamented William Smith of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. "Astounded!" wailed Jonathan Zenilman of the American Sexually Transmitted Disease Association. "Pure Politics!" reported Rob Stein of the Washington Post.|
Earlier this month, the CDC was roused from a one-year slumber. The minute they opened both eyes, accusations started flying. Reporters, following Stein's lead, couldn't type fast enough to get their own ten column inches in print.
News stories reported last-minute changes to a panel at the 2006 National STD Prevention Conference in Jacksonville, Florida. Originally, William Smith was slated to appear and address the question, "Are Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs a Threat to Public Health?"
Thankfully, people who care about the integrity of public health policy shook the CDC by its shoulders and woke it up. A threat to public health? Sexual abstinence until marriage? Imagine! Someone is threatening the health of our children by teaching them the medically accurate facts supporting sexual abstinence as an intelligent and desired standard of behavior?
The CDC woke up and took note. Recognizing the pure political propaganda in the title of the panel, they took steps to bring the focus of the panel back to science and medical health. You would have thought the CDC had shot the family dog.
Pure politics, Mr. Stein? You are right. But your reporting missed the very essence of what is astounding. In truth, politics form the very heart and soul of business as usual for Mr. Trigg, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Zenilman.
Consider William Smith, one of the original members removed from the panel. He works for SIECUS, a key player along with Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion and Reproduction Rights Action League, the National Organization for Women, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, and the American Civil Liberties Union .. all of these organizations united in attacking sexual abstinence as a positive health strategy. SIECUS, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW, GLSEN, and ACLU. What part of this alliance is not considered political?
And Mr. Smith's personal expertise? According to an Internet bio, at one time he was working to complete a doctorate in political philosophy. And that's not political?
Consider Henry Waxman (D-CA), who is also critical of abstinence programs and who weighed in against the CDC action. Would you be surprised to know that Waxman receives a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and NOW? No? Good. He does.
"On the votes that Planned Parenthood considered to be the most important from 1995 to 2001," says Vote-Smart.org, "Representative Waxman voted their preferred position 100 percent of the time." And that's not political?
Thankfully, the organizer of the original panel, Bruce Trigg of the New Mexico Department of Public Health, told Stein, "I have nothing to fear from a balanced program." Good deal, Bruce. That's exactly what the CDC took steps to ensure.
First, the name change: "Public Health Strategies of Abstinence Programs for Youth." Gone was the fear-based language promising a threat to public health. Next, the CDC took steps to remove the student of political philosophy from the panel.
Who took his place? None other than a board-certified ob-gyn. More than that, Dr. Patricia Sulak "is the director of the Scott & White Sex Education Program. Her responsibilities include overseeing curriculum content and conducting sex education seminars for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and various civic and community organizations. And ...
"On May 6, 1999, she was presented with the 'Heroes for Children' award by the Texas State Board of Education. Dr. Sulak is a Professor at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center College of Medicine, Temple, Texas, and the Director of the Division of Ambulatory Care in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Scott & White Memorial Hospital and Clinic. And ...
"Dr. Sulak is board certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and a Board Examiner for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology."
Reporters were half right. With the CDC asleep at the wheel, this was a panel originally convened for the sake of "pure politics."
Thankfully, the CDC was roused from its sleep. It opened both eyes. And for the good of our children, it took steps to restore integrity to the panel with a "balanced program" that included the contributions of leading medical experts in the field of adolescent health.
For that, they deserve our thanks. Thanks!
A former elementary school teacher, Jane Jimenez (firstname.lastname@example.org) is now a freelance writer dedicated to issues of importance to women and the family. She writes a regular column titled "From the Home Front." Her work has appeared in both Christian and secular publications. Jane and her husband Victor live in Phoenix and have two children.
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