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House Bill Would End Federal Funding for Abstinence-Only Sex Education

House Bill Would End Federal Funding for Abstinence-Only Sex Education

December 18, 2013 — Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and eight other House Democrats have proposed legislation (HR 3774) that would eliminate federal grants for state-based, abstinence-only sex education programs, The Hill's "Floor Action" reports.

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

According to Lee's office, the government has spent almost $2 billion on such grants since 1996. Lee noted that nearly half of the states have rejected the grants and that the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences have recommended ending the program because it is "poor fiscal and public health policy."

"Abstinence-only programs fail to address the challenge of unplanned pregnancies and sexually-transmitted infections among our youth, which have reached a critical level," Lee said. She added, "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 her legislation -- the Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act -- has support from several groups, including the AIDS Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.

Lee said the groups favor "comprehensive sexuality education" through a program in the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) called the Personal Responsibility Education Program. According to "Floor Action," PREP includes information on abstinence, contraception and STIs.

The bill's co-sponsors include 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.) (Kasperowicz, "Floor Action," The Hill, 12/17).