Bias claimed in U.S. abstinence-only review
Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat and ranking minority member on the House Government Reform Committee, is asking the Government Accountability Office to investigate a $2.7 million three-year contract to review abstinence-only curricula. Waxman claims the National Abstinence Clearinghouse, which was awarded the contract by the Department of Health and Human Services in September 2002, has potential financial conflicts of interest and an ideological bias.
The contract includes providing technical assistance on medical accuracy for abstinence-only grantees and the development of criteria to ensure that curricula comply with the statutory definition of "abstinence."
Waxman claims that the Clearinghouse has a strong ideological bias and a history of ignoring scientific evidence that challenges its positions. He claims that the organization "appears to have a significant conflict of interest because it earns fees from abstinence-only resource providers whose curricula it is being asked to evaluate."
Waxman has specifically asked the GAO to look into how the Clearinghouse was selected as the contractor and whether the HHS has taken any steps to address potential conflicts of interest. The request stems from an earlier letter Waxman and 19 other lawmakers, mostly Democratic, sent in January to the GAO asking for a review of the processes within HHS for determining the accuracy and evaluating the effects of "abstinence-only" sex education. The GAO agreed to undertake the review.