INDIANAPOLIS- A proposal offered by Assistant Democratic Leader Jean D. Breaux (D-Indianapolis) to require the State Departments of Health and Education to jointly identify appropriate academic standards concerning health and sex education failed to advance past the Senate Education and Career Development Committee on Wednesday. Senate Bill (SB) 497 would have required both departments to report their findings to the General Assembly which could then choose to enact them.

“This is an unfortunate setback in attempting to curtail the number of teenage pregnancies occurring in communities across our state,” said Sen. Breaux. “Frankly, this was a common-sense initiative and I am disappointed it failed to advance. Mounting evidence suggests the ‘abstinence-only’ approach is not working.”

In Fiscal Year 2014, nearly 4,000 teenage pregnancies covered by Indiana Medicaid cost taxpayers $7.7 million.

The Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) passed in 1981 and provided federal funding for abstinence-only sexual education programs. Between 1996 and 2009, it is estimated Congress spent over $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars to support these programs.

“This proposal wouldn’t have written standards for schools,” said Sen. Breaux. “It simply would have allowed two knowledgeable state agencies to study the issue and present their findings to the legislature.”

Research from the U.S. Department of Health found that sexual abstinence rates have not increased since abstinence-only educational programs were required in schools. In the study, the average age of an individual’s first sexual experience remained the same, as well as their number of sexual partners.

The measure was voted down with four members voting in favor and seven against after nearly an hour of testimony.