In a nice hat tip to social conservatives who believe in teaching teens the virtues of abstinence and waiting until marriage rather than just handing out contraceptives to them, the Trump administration has just cut grant programs meant to curtail teen pregnancy rates … because they were worthless.
The Hill reports that an “office within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified 81 institutions across the U.S. that the five-year grants they were awarded would end two years sooner than planned.”
Created by President Obama in 2010, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program funded millions of organizations who taught children between the ages of 10 and 19 years old how to avoid pregnancy through the use of contraceptives, doing little to prevent premarital sex.
Though the program was set to end in 2020, which would have cost an extra $200 million in funding initiatives across 39 states, the HHS informed the grant recipients that the funding will stop on June 30, 2018.
One such recipient was the Baltimore City Health Department, whose Democratic-run city boasted a pregnancy rate three times higher than the national average. Over the next two years, the city would receive $3.5 million in grant funding.
“There was no communication about the reason. The notice of the award just stated that instead of a five-year grant, it is now a three-year grant,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “We don’t have another way to fill this deficit. This will leave a huge hole in our ability to deliver health education.”
Many government officials, Democrats especially, have expressed puzzlement over the sudden change, befuddled as to why the HHS would do such a thing.
According to Mark Vafiades, a spokesman for HHS’s office of the assistant secretary for health, the programs were useless and did little to actually curtail teen pregnancy rates. Trump’s budget proposal also eschews funding the initiative.
“Given the very weak evidence of positive impact of these programs, the Trump administration, in its FY 2018 budget proposal, did not recommend continued funding for the TPP program,” he said in a statement to The Hill.
Of the approved 44 pregnancy prevention programs (abortion conglomerate Planned Parenthood among them) funded by HHS, only three were abstinence education programs. HHS Secretary Tom Price and Vice President Pence both support abstinence-only education programs.
Social conservatives have been appointed to positions of influence in the Trump administration. Just recently, abstinence-only education advocate Valerie Huber was named chief of staff to the assistant secretary for health, which oversees the office that manages the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. Huber wrote in an op-ed for The Hill about the ineffectiveness of Obama’s programs.
“The healthiest message for youth is one that gives youth the skills and information to avoid the risks of teen sex, not merely reduce them,” she said.
“Policymakers finally have an opportunity to give American youth the reinforcement they need to continue to make healthy choices — and to normalize sexual delay for all teens and especially for those teens who currently feel pressured to have sex by social media, their favorite music, or their sex education classes.”
Congressional Democrats have rallied the troops to fight the move. The Big Cities Health Coalition, which is made up of health officials from 28 major cities, wrote an official letter to Price begging him to keep wasting money on the program.
“Ending what was intended to be five year TPPP grants two years early is highly disruptive to ongoing work in localities across the country. These cuts will negatively affect the lives of young people currently participating in these programs, and will mean fewer project jobs, fewer trained professionals, and reduced community partnerships,” the officials wrote in a letter to Price.
“Cutting TPPP funding and shortening the project period will not only reverse historic gains made in the U.S. in reducing teen pregnancy rates, but also make it difficult to truly understand what practices are most effective in our communities across the nation.”
Ever since news of this impending change broke back in July, leftists have heralded the coming apocalypse in teen pregnancy, but they ignore clear evidence from the Office of Adolescent Health that the programs either did nothing or actually made the situation worse. From LifeSiteNews:
Some organizations didn’t report findings, some admitted there was no difference in teen pregnancy rates, some reported improvements that quickly faded, and some showed increasing pregnancy rates.
Despite the government’s promise of “evidence-based” reporting, only 40 percent of grantees revealed the results of effectiveness analysis. Of those grantees continuing past programs, only four of more than 75 reported effective results, and those results were short-lived. Of the grantees trying “new” ideas, only eight of 27 showed the slightest effectiveness.
As pro-marriage and family advocates predicted, some reports showed their contraception programs resulting in increasing rates of sexual risk-taking among teens.
Planned Parenthood of the Northwest, which received $4 million, admitted their minor subjects were just as likely as any other teen to have sex without birth control. In fact, teen girls reported even higher rates of pregnancy than those without the program.
As to the so-called ineffectiveness of abstinence-only education, a CDC report from 2015 showed that the number of teenagers not having sex has increased dramatically since 1991, a full 28%. This coincided with a sharp decline in teen pregnancy rates.
The left also asserts that abstinence-only education uses ineffective scare tactics to keep teens from having sex, but that’s not true. As noted by Valerie Huber, the programs seek not to just prevent behavior, but encourage healthy lifestyles that build responsible adults.
“These programs focus on the whole person by sharing the importance of healthy decision-making to future life outcomes,” she wrote. “They teach the skills of the success sequence — which dramatically reduces the chance that youth will live in poverty as adults — if they implement the following in order: finish school, get a job, and then have children after marriage.”
“In addition, these programs discuss the components of healthy relationships, future family formation, and the impact that waiting for sex can have on academic success. Science shows those teens that choose to wait to have sex until marriage increase their chances for a happier marriage, healthier future family, a life of self-discipline and productive citizenship.”
Since it encourages marriage, family, and self-discipline, no wonder the Left hates it. In the meantime, we’ll wait for MTV’s reboot of 16 and Pregnant.