Thursday, September 15, 2005

Suing for the truth

The little-known law, the Information Quality Act has until now primarily been used by business groups to challenge information released by government agencies which might reflect badly on that business. "For example, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Salt Institute filed a petition challenging the government's finding that reduced sodium consumption will result in lower blood pressure in all individuals."

Now however, two groups are utilizing the law to challenge the rampant inaccuracies that fill the nation's abstinence only sex-ed classes. From the AP:

Two organizations that promote sex education are taking an unorthodox approach in their fight against federal funding of abstinence-only education programs.

Relying on a little-used law that allows "affected persons" to seek the correction of information disseminated by federal agencies, the groups said Tuesday that the abstinence education programs contain erroneous and ineffective information. They asked the Health and Human Services Department to correct it.

The groups, Advocates for Youth and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States hold onto the hope that our schools' health classes could actually teach accurate information:

They called on the Administration for Children and Families to cease sponsorship of programs that fail to provide medically accurate information.

For example, dozens of grantees teach that condom use reduces the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS by 69 percent to 90 percent. The two groups say that such instruction greatly underestimates the effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV/AIDS, and the numbers result from a study that the department itself described as having conclusions based on "serious error."

"Never in recent history has so much government money been put into so many programs with so little oversight and so little proven impact," Wagoner said.

Amy Sullivan wrote an excellent article last year in the Washington Monthly about the complete lack of oversight into the billions of dollars given to "faith-based groups" in this administration. While I'm not suggesting that all abstinence-only sex-ed curriclua are linked to faith-based organizations, it is just one more example of the fact that the ideological allies of the president are given carte blanche to lie, cheat and steal.

Finally, some of them are being called on it.

Update (20050922.2355): For an example of a business group using the IQA, look here.


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