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What does Mark Souder's resignation mean for abstinence education?

Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) has told his Republican colleagues that he will resign from the House following an affair with an aide.

"I sinned against God, my wife and my family by having a mutual relationship with a part-time member of my staff," said Souder in a statement. "In the poisonous environment of Washington, D.C., any personal failing is seized upon, often twisted, for political gain. I am resigning rather than to put my family through that painful, drawn-out process... by stepping aside, my mistake cannot be used as a political football in a partisan attempt to undermine the cause for which I have labored all my adult life."

One of the causes Souder is talking about is, of course, abstinence education. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources when Republicans held the majority in Congress, Souder was a warrior for abstinence-only sex education and a critic of other forms of sex education, and he repeatedly intervened to make sure abstinence advocates were represented -- even to the inclusion of other experts -- on panels about sexual health. This is an embarrassing moment for the cause Souder spent 16 years advocating for.

What's this mean for the GOP? Indiana Republicans tell me they can pick a replacement at their June 18 and June 19 convention in Indianapolis, and because Souder barely survived a primary challenge this month, there will be no shortage of candidates angling to replace him. Democrats actually have a strong candidate for the seat in Tom Hayhurst, who ran only 8 points behind Souder in a 2006 challenge.

TPM, loving it, grabs a video from 2009 of Souder talking about sex education -- interviewed by Tracy Jackson, who according to Fox News is the unnamed "part-time staffer" with whom he's now admitting an affair.

There's your punchline -- "congressman shot pro-abstinence video with his mistress." Just a huge embarrassment.

By David Weigel  |  May 18, 2010; 10:05 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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