Judge rules against Trump administration in teen pregnancy prevention case

Judge rules against Trump administration in teen pregnancy prevention case
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A federal judge in D.C. ruled Thursday that the Trump administration's cuts to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program were unlawful. 

Last summer, the administration notified 81 organizations that their five-year grants through the program would end in 2018, rather than in 2020, prompting multiple lawsuits. 

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Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ruled in one of those cases Thursday, ordering the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to accept and process applications of four grantees as if they had not been terminated. 

“We are disappointed with today’s ruling. As numerous studies have shown, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program is not working. Continuing the program in its current state does a disservice to the youth it serves and to the taxpayers who fund it. Communities deserve better, and we are considering our next steps,” said HHS spokesperson Caitlin Oakley in a statement. 

The Public Citizen, a consumer rights group in D.C., represented Policy and Research LLC, Project Vida Health Center, Sexual Health Initiatives for Teens and the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy — four of 81 grantees who had their funds cut short by the administration last year. 

Several other lawsuits are still playing out in court. 

"The court’s decision today is a rebuke of the Trump administration’s effort to kill a program that is working effectively to lower teen pregnancy rates," said Sean Sherman, an attorney at the Public Citizen Litigation Group. "Because of the court’s ruling, the four grantees will be able to continue to serve their local communities and to conduct important research. The court’s decision confirms that HHS must administer the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program in accordance with the agency’s own regulations and the requirement of reasoned decision-making." 

The administration abruptly cut the grants off last year, arguing that the programs were ineffective at curbing teenage pregnancy. 

The program, created in 2010 under former President Obama, funds organizations working to reduce and prevent teen pregnancy, with a focus on reaching populations with the greatest need.

But it has long been criticized by conservatives for its focus on comprehensive sex education, which can include teaching about safe sex and abstinence. 

HHS officials within the Trump administration have pushed for an emphasis on abstinence education for teens, instead. 

HHS did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. 

Updated: 8:53 p.m.