Dems eye abstinence education funding

Nine House Democrats have offered legislation that would eliminate federal grants to states that run abstinence education programs.

Under Title V of the Social Security Act, the government can make grants to states for abstinence education and counseling to promote abstinence among groups of people who are most likely to have children outside of marriage.

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But Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) says this program is not working, and says Congress should pass her bill — H.R. 3774, the Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act.

"We need to get serious about educating our young people about sex," Lee said Monday. "Abstinence-only programs fail to address the challenge of unplanned pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections among our youth, which have reached a critical level.

"We must ensure that we provide comprehensive sex education programs that have been proven to work, instead of throwing money away on programs that don't."

Lee said the government has spent nearly $2 billion on abstinence grants since 1996, but her office said those programs "fail to teach teens how to prevent unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections, including HIV."

She also said nearly half of the states have rejected these grants from the government, and the Institute of Medicine in the National Academy of Sciences has recommended ending the program because it is "poor fiscal and public health policy."

Lee said the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS), AIDS Institute, American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Campaign, and Planned Parenthood all support her bill. She said these groups support "comprehensive sexuality education" through a program in ObamaCare called the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP).

The PREP program includes abstinence education, but also includes education on the use of contraception to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Lee's bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Lois Capps (D-Calif.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).