Time's Sullivan: Abstinence Ed 'Not the End of the World' Under a Democratic Administration

October 2nd, 2009 12:40 PM

One sign your news magazine might be out of touch with average Americans is when you take a look at abstinence-only sex ed guidelines and declare that, in the Obama administration's hands, it's "not the end of the world."

Time's Amy Sullivan, however, aims to reassure skittish liberals weary of the Bush administration's socially conservative tack on sex ed funding:

You may have heard that on Tuesday evening, the Senate Finance Committee approved another Hatch amendment (he's got a million of 'em, folks) to restore $50 million in Title V funding for abstinence-only programs that Congress allowed to expire in June. As you might imagine, this has social conservatives somersaulting and social liberals...well, not so much. There are, however, good reasons to believe that we are not headed back to the Bush era of sex education policy.

Sullivan went on to explain that while "programs that receive abstinence funding under Title V have to adhere to an eight-point definition of abstinence, the so-called 'A through H' definition," that Obama HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius "could return to the earlier understanding that programs place emphasis on some points more than others."

Sullivan elaborated by arguing that the Obama/Sebelius HHS is unlikely to make abstinence "until marriage" a central point of abstinence education:

[A] Democratic HHS not only isn't likely to require programs to make "not until marriage" the central message--the agency also doesn't have to award grants to programs that do so, nor to programs that disseminate false information about the risks of contraception.

What's more "it's far from certain" that the Hatch amendment will survive the legislative process, Sullivan added. The bottom line, the Time staffer assured liberal "safe sex education" fans:

Abstinence-only is back for now, but it ain't what it used to be.