Health workers show the proper use of a condom during a family planning session in Manila, August 2012.
Erik De Castro / Courtesy Reuters

I was living in Ghana in February 2008 when U.S. President George W. Bush stopped by for a brief state visit. The local press was largely critical, especially regarding the U.S. war in Iraq. But there was one issue on which Ghanaians and the U.S. president clearly saw eye to eye: sex education.

At the time, Bush was trying to persuade Congress to boost funding for his campaign to fight global HIV/AIDS. There was just one hitch: one-third of the money would have to be earmarked for abstinence-only programs.

As a card-carrying Democrat, I had long dismissed

This article is part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, you must subscribe.