The Trump administration announced Friday that it will direct funds allocated for the prevention of teen pregnancy to programs which emphasize abstinence.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, grants through the Obama-era Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program will focus on delaying sexual activity among teens rather than the previous sex education approach. The TPPP has been allotted $108 million for the 2018 fiscal year, with which it will endow participating schools and communities in order to prevent teen pregnancy and improve sexual health.
The administration has designated two tiers of funds for TPPP.
In the first tier, recipients will be required to participate in programs which follow either a “sexual risk reduction model” — the design of which is to curb sexual behavior — or a “sexual risk avoidance model,” which aims to eliminate sexual activity altogether.
The second tier of funding rewards proposals regarding the development and testing of “new and innovative strategies” that address “youth sexual risk holistically by focusing on protective factors.”
The Trump administration’s shift away from mere sex education has been a gradual one. It previously added several pro-abstention HHS employees, including Valerie Huber — the chief of staff for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health — who formerly served as president of Ascend, an advocacy group for abstinence education.
Democratic Washington Sen. Patty Murray has condemned the new emphasis on celibacy, saying, “Both Democrats and Republicans have supported investing in evidence-based approaches to preventing teen pregnancy, so it is disappointing — and deeply concerning — that the Trump-Pence Administration is doing everything it can to undermine these investments in ways that take us in the absolutely wrong direction on this issue. These changes show yet again that the Trump-Pence Administration’s priority is imposing its extreme, backwards ideology, no matter what that means for women, families, and communities.”