President Obama Proposes Eliminating Funding for 'Abstinence Only' Education

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the death of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia during a statement delivered in Rancho Mirage, California February 13, 2016.
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about the death of Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia during a statement delivered in Rancho Mirage, California February 13, 2016. | (Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

President Barack Obama has proposed the elimination of funding for abstinence-only education programs run by the Department of Health and Human Services and increasing funding for other programs.

The proposed elimination of funding for the abstinence-only programs are among several cuts proposed by Obama in his fiscal year 2017 budget according to a Vox report. The funding comes in the form of an annual $10 million grant.

Abstinence-only programs also do not typically include information on condoms or other forms of birth control in lessons but implementers of these programs say the are effective in positively influencing sexual behavior among teenagers.

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One HHS approved abstinence-only program, Heritage Keepers Abstinence Education run by Heritage Community Services boasts of its effectiveness online.

"The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognizes the Heritage Keepers® Abstinence Education program as a proven effective, evidenced-based intervention that reduces sexual initiation among teens as well as other positive research findings that impact the health and well-being of youth," reads the program description.

Program officials further highlight that Heritage Keepers is the first abstinence until marriage program to be included on the federal list of approved pregnancy prevention programs (as of April 2012).

The Christian Post reached out to Heritage Keepers as well as two other HHS approved abstinence-only services for comment on the proposed cuts but no one was available. Monique Richards, public affairs specialist with the HHS promised to provide answers to questions seeking an official explanation of the proposed cuts on Thursday but still had not provided a response at the time of publication on Friday.

The Sexuality Information And Education Council Of The U.S., however, offered a strong opinion on the proposed cuts in a statement last Tuesday. The abstinence-only project, says SIECUS is a wasted effort that has already cost taxpayers nearly $2 billion.

"SIECUS is grateful for President Obama's leadership in seeking to end abstinence-only-until-marriage funding once and for all. After three decades and nearly $2 billion in federal spending wasted on this failed approach, the President's proposed budget increases support for programs and efforts that seek to equip young people with the skills they need to ensure their lifelong sexual health and well-being," said SIECUS's vice president for policy, interim president and CEO, Jesseca Boyer.

"SIECUS also applauds the President's proposed $4 million increase for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, helping communities implement evidence-informed and innovative strategies to support the sexual health of our nation's youth," she added.

"The continued funding for the Division of Adolescent and School Health and request for future Personal Responsibility Education Program funding demonstrates this administration's commitment to secure the right to quality sexuality education for young people," she further explained.

SIECUS highlighted that in early November 2007, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy released Emerging Answers 2007, a report authored by Dr. Douglas Kirby, a leading sexual health researcher, discussing what programs work in preventing teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. The report found evidence that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs do not have any impact on teen sexual behavior.

In commenting on the budget proposal in a recorded statement last Tuesday, HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, said, "I actually believe the budget is not just a document about revenues and outlays of which it is that, but it states our nation's values, and in detail, it shows how together we can actually realize those values."

She said President Obama's budget proposal "does just that."

"It shows how we can make the key investments in our nation to guarantee an economy that works for everyone," she said.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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