A recent study commissioned by Congress concluded that abstinence-only programs are completely ineffective in preventing or delaying teenagers from having sexual intercourse. Nor do they lower unwanted pregnancy rates or lessen the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Given this reality, it’s bad news that the federal government will waste $176 million on these programs in 2007 alone. “In short, American taxpayers appear to have paid over one billion federal dollars for programs that have no impact,” said Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif), chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The good news: Leaders at the state and federal level are learning how counterproductive abstinence-only programs are and are starting to take action.

Several states, including California, Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have already rejected Title V funds, for being too restrictive. And more recently, Congressional leaders have indicated that they would allow Title V, a $50 million abstinence-only program, to expire on June 30. “Abstinence-only seems to be a colossal failure,” said Rep. John Dingell, (D- MI) chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has jurisdiction over Title V funding.

Rep. Waxman is also considering holding hearings on the issue in the near future.

“With all we know about how to prevent teen pregnancy and reduce sexually transmitted diseases,” said Rep. Diana DeGette, (D-Col.), “it is high time to redirect the millions of federal dollars that we squander every year on abstinence-only education to programs that actually work.”

This post was co-written by Michael Corcoran, a former Nation intern and freelance journalist residing in Boston. His work has appeared in The Nation, the Boston Globe and Campus Progress. he can be reached at www.michaelcorcoran.blogspot.com. Please send us your own ideas for “sweet victories” by emailing to nationvictories@gmail.com