Some Abstinence Funding Restored
Special Report - March 30, 2010
Abstinence education proponents are celebrating the news that the newly enacted health care reform law restores some federal funding for states to use for abstinence-only education programs that had previously been eliminated by President Obama. The provision, which was added to the health care legislation by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) during debate over the measure in the Senate last year, restores a total of $250 million in federal funding over the next five years for sex education programs that exclusively teach teens to abstain from sexual activity until marriage. Under the provision, states will have access to $50 million per year in 2010 to 2014 through the Title V program.
The provision in the health care reform law does not restore all of the federal funding for abstinence-only education programs, which previously received over $100 million per year in direct federal funds, along with $50 million per year in block grants to the states to teach abstinence-only sex education (North Carolina typically received about $1.2 million of these funds). President Obama’s first two budgets completely eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only programs.
“We are encouraged that funding will continue so that the important sexual health message of risk avoidance will reach American teens” said Valerie Huber, Executive Director of the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA), in a statement. “In facing the complex problem of teen sex, we must not limit solutions, we must support what works and continue to find even more effective ways of reaching our youth.”
Senator Hatch told The Washington Post, “Given recent studies that have proved that abstinence education is effective at reducing teen pregnancy, it’s no wonder this funding was included in the bill.”
As we previously reported, a study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania that was released earlier this year found that “Theory-based abstinence-only interventions may have an important role in preventing adolescent sexual involvement.” The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy called the study, “game-changing.”
“The partial restoration of federal abstinence education funds is great news for young people in North Carolina, as well as abstinence educators,” said Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “This news should encourage school districts to continue bringing authentic abstinence educators into the classroom to teach students that abstinence from sexual activity until marriage is the only 100 percent effective way to completely eliminate the myriad of negative consequences associated with early sexual activity, including STDs and unwed pregnancy.”
The North Carolina Family Policy Council has created a new issue brief that outlines the correct interpretation of the Healthy Youth Act (HYA), which was enacted by the General Assembly last year and goes into effect in the 2010-11 school year. The HYA changed the name of the state’s sex education program from “Abstinence-Until-Marriage (AUM) Education” to “Reproductive Health and Safety Education,” and mandates instruction on all FDA-approved contraception. While it opens the door for pro-condom education groups, such as Planned Parenthood, to get into the classroom to promote so-called “safer” sex, it does not eliminate the requirement to teach abstinence in schools, or prohibit Pregnancy Resource Centers from continuing to assist schools in teaching sex education. Go here to download the brief.
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