A newly proposed spending bill from U.S. House Republicans would dramatically cut funding for comprehensive sex education and increase spending on abstinence-only education programs.

According to RH Reality Check, the House GOP’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill cuts funding for the “Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative from $110 million to just $20 million”:

The new initiative, according to the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), funds a total of 102 grantees in 36 states and is set to reach over 800,000 young people annually. It began in FY 2010 and was designed to support “medically accurate and age-appropriate programs to reduce teen pregnancy and underlying behavioral risk factors.” Many saw this as the Obama Administration’s answer to the Bush-era investment in abstinence-only-until-marriage programs which did not work. Not only would the cuts force the government to drastically reduce the number of grantees receiving money, the proposed bill also removes the important requirement that all programs be evidence-based, which disregards the intent of the initiative and makes room for abstinence-only programs to apply.

… The bill also resurrects the Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) grant program. CBAE was always considered the strictest of the funding streams for abstinence-only programs in part because the money went straight from the Department of Health and Human Services to community-based organizations bypassing the states which were often more relaxed about the definition of what constitutes an abstinence-only program. Funding for CBAE was finally eliminated in Fiscal Year 2010. In this proposed bill, it once again would receive $20 million.

The Florida Legislature has been prioritizing sex education in the state in a similar manner, which has led to disappointing results.

Legislators turned away federal grants awarded to the state for comprehensive sex education while accepting funds mostly for abstinence-only sex education. Some of the abstinence education funds have gone to local programs that have been shown to place a very limited emphasis on health specifics.

Florida has made progress in reducing teen pregnancy in the past few years. However, a number of counties are facing a persistent problem with high teen pregnancy rates. Over 60 percent of the counties in Florida with the highest birth rate among teens who are between the ages of 15 and 19 did not manage to decrease their rates in 2009. In 2009, Florida was sixth in the nation for teen birth rates.

Many comprehensive sex education advocates in the state have pointed to the state’s focus on abstinence education for the high rates of teen pregnancy.

The same proposed GOP House spending bill also makes big cuts to reproductive health services and defunds Planned Parenthood, a chain of women’s health clinics that provides care to women who are uninsured or under-insured.

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