Backers of abstinence-only education launched a campaign yesterday urging Governor Deval Patrick to accept a $700,000 federal grant to keep the program alive in Massachusetts.
Patrick, who vetoed language in the state budget supporting the program, has indicated he won't apply for the money. The application deadline is Sept. 30.
"We don't teach kids how to smoke safely, drink and drive safely, and fight safely," said Rebecca Ray of Healthy Futures, a subsidiary of a Christian, antiabortion group called A Woman's Concern.
Critics say the program misinforms by emphasizing the failure rates of other birth control methods.
Yesterday, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying group, the National Abstinence Education Association, launched a $75,000 media campaign of newspaper and radio ads, and unveiled a new website, urging Patrick to change his mind.
One of the ads says: "Deval Patrick Doesn't Want 11-Year-Olds Taught to Say 'No' to Sex."
Kyle Sullivan, Patrick spokesman, called the ad "a complete and utter distortion of the facts."
To accept the money, the Legislature would have to override the veto and Patrick would have to change his mind.