Abstinence education passed the first hurdle this week after the Senate Finance Committee narrowly voted to restore federal funding for the sex education program.
In a 12-11 vote Tuesday night, the Committee restored $50 million a year in federal funding for abstinence-only education in public schools. Two Democrats, Sens. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), joined all 10 Republicans on the Committee to vote in favor of the amendment by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to the 2010 budget.
The original 2010 budget proposed by President Obama had no money designated for abstinence-only education. Instead, Obama sought to direct money for the abstinence program towards broader teen pregnancy-reduction programs.
“Committee members courageously put politics aside in favor of the health and well-being of the American families," the National Abstinence Education Association said in a statement. "Tonight's vote is a show of support for valuable and proven abstinence education that has made such a difference in the lives of so many teens, while also supporting parents who soundly endorse such programs."
However, committee chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) argued that abstinence education does not work and has proposed another amendment that would make money available for education on contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. The Baucus measure also passed the Finance Committee.
Both measures will proceed to the full Senate and then the House. Lawmakers in the Senate will need to reconcile the two measures.