President Obama’s FY2010 budget eliminated funding for abstinence-only education and school districts are increasingly moving away from such programs because they have proven to be ineffective at reducing teen pregnancy. However, Newsweek reports that the recently released Senate health care bill restores some funding for abstinence-only programs, inserted by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), which seems to be “a slight concession to the Senate’s social conservatives”:
Their provision would restore a program called Title V, which, since the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, has allocated a yearly $50 million in grants to abstinence-only education programs. Obama let the program lapse in June, leaving some abstinence-only groups in dire straits. So in September, Sen. Orrin Hatch offered an amendment to restore Title V via heath-care reform, which (much to the outrage of liberal groups) just squeaked through the Senate Finance Committee with a 12–11 vote. A similar amendment, offered in the House by Rep. Terry Lee from Nebraska, died in committee.
If the Senate language survives reconciliation, the Title V program will be extended through 2014. This will not, however, bring abstinence funding back to the levels of the past decade. In 2008, Title V grants accounted for just under 25 percent of the federal abstinence budget (the rest of the budget came from other abstinence-only funding sources not restored in the Senate bill, including Community Based Abstinence Education Grants and the Adolescent Family Life Act).
Funding for comprehensive sex education is also in the bill. Sec. 2953 also provides “$75 million per year through FY2014 for Personal Responsibility Education grants to States for programs to educate adolescents on both abstinence and contraception for prevention of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.”