Kate Walsh: Abstinence-Only "Not Working"

Actress Kate Walsh is pushing for federal sex education programs to teach strategies beyond abstinence-only.

Walsh, who played a doctor on "Grey's Anatomy" and stars in its spin-off, "Private Practice," is a member of the board of advocates of Planned Parenthood, and went to Capitol Hill Thursday to take part in a congressional briefing on sex education.

She's been lobbying for sex ed to include birth control and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.


Photos: Meet Kate Walsh
On The Early Show Friday, Walsh told co-anchor Julie Chen, "Abstinence-only is not working. It's a $1.5 billion program over the last ten years that has, quite frankly, failed. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reported that one-in-four teenage girls (in the US) between the ages of 14 and 19 are infected with STIs (sexually transmitted infections), and that, to me, is appalling and shameful. And in the age of information, these women are just not getting adequate information."

Walsh says there's urgent need for a change in the way sex ed funds are appropriated: "In addition to abstinence, which is fine, there just needs to be a comprehensive sex education program, and we can't be relying on, you know, private foundations or parents or, you know, teens' peers to be educating each other. We really do need government help on this.

"It's a shame to me that we spend money on educating our kids on history, math, science, English literature, and we can't educate them sexually. And it's proof in these statistics. It's just shameful to me that, in our country, that these young women are being infected because they honestly just don't have the information.

"Abstinence is one aspect of sex education," Walsh continued, "but it is not the complete aspect. And to expect, I think, everybody to remain abstinent, it's like asking them not to grow. It's like we don't ask people to not try out for sports. We don't ask people to stop learning. It's just a natural human process, and we need to be educating people. If abstinence-only did work, we wouldn't be seeing these kinds of statistics. We wouldn't be seeing these young women suffering like this."