Time and Post Rehash Old Study to Bash Funding for Abstinence Programs

January 27th, 2010 11:09 AM

UPDATE: The New York Times joined the fray as well with a similar article. 

Must be a slow news week. Both Time and the Washington Post reported yesterday on a rehashed two-year-old study about rising teen pregnancy rates.

"Pregnancy rates among U.S. teenagers," wrote Time's Belinda Luscombe, "which had been dropping since 1990, took an upturn in 2006, according to newly released data."

This "newly released data," however, is far from breaking news. The original study was actually published over two years ago by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and it got plenty of attention back then, including from the Washington Post. The study has since been given a little facelift by the liberal, anti-abstinence organization the Guttmacher Institute and has been re-released as shocking new data. So why did the Post and the Time even consider this newsworthy? The Post's Rob Stein unknowingly sandwiched the answer to that question in the middle of his article.

"The report," he wrote, "comes as Congress might consider restoring federal funding to sex-education programs that focus on abstinence. The Obama administration eliminated more than $150 million in funds for such groups, but the Senate's health-care reform legislation would reinstate $50 million."

It's a trend that the Culture & Media Institute exposed in its 2007 report, Sex, Lies, and Bias. Whenever Congress is debating funding for abstinence education, the media invariably run stories attacking or questioning the efficacy of such programs. 

Not surprisingly, both the Post and Time articles had an anti-abstinence stance, and both of them buried the fact that the organization behind the report strongly opposes abstinence-only education.

The Post's Stein, for example, simply labeled the Guttmacher Institute "the nation's leading reproductive-health think tank" and called it "nonpartisan." He also identified the obviously left-leaning organization Advocates for Youth as just a "Washington advocacy group." Time's Luscombe waited until the second-to-last paragraph to briefly mention that the Guttmacher Institute is "opposed to abstinence-only education" and then she followed that statement with a fifty-word quote from a Guttmacher representative. Neither article disclosed that the institute began as a research arm of the liberal, pro-abortion organization Planned Parenthood. (In fact, the founder of the institute, Alan Guttmacher, was once president of Planned Parenthood.)

Stein did a little better than Luscombe in giving at least some ink to the pro-abstinence side. Stein included a quote from the National Abstinence Education Association as well as a paragraph listing other possible reasons for the rise in teen pregnancy, such as an increase in poverty. Luscombe, on the other hand, barely squeezed a word in about it. Out of her 696-word article, only 38 words were expended in favor of abstinence education - and that was just to mention that no one has proven yet that comprehensive sex-ed works any better than an abstinence-only approach.

In the end, the fact that both of Stein and Luscombe even considered this rehashed study by a lefty, anti-abstinence organization newsworthy should be evidence enough of their intentions.