By: Henry Eden ~Staff Writer~
As part of his 2017 budget proposal, President Barack Obama has attempted to eliminate a $10 million grant that annually funds abstinence-only sex education in the U.S. By doing so, the President would eliminate all financial incentive for states to continue promoting an abstinence-only curriculum in school health classes.
Funding for abstinence-only education was first allocated by former President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Since then, funding for the program has grown steadily, despite scientific evidence showing it’s ineffective.
The abstinence-only curriculum teaches students not to have sex as a means of preventing unplanned pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted illnesses (STI), in lieu of a program educating on the subject of birth-control and safe sex.
The system is favored by Christian parents across the nation and is promoted by Republican politicians and lawmakers as a result.
Studies done in the U.S. on abstinence education programs have shown that not only are they ineffective in preventing unplanned pregnancy and STIs in teens but may be having an unintended negative effect on students in the programs.
In fact, teens in states teaching an abstinence-only curriculum have proven 60 percent more likely to become pregnant accidentally.
“After three decades and nearly $2 billion in federal spending wasted on this failed approach, the President’s proposed budget increases support for programs and efforts that seek to equip young people with the skills they need to ensure their lifelong sexual health and well-being,” Jessica Boyer, CEO of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), said, stating her relief following the announcement of the president’s proposal.
The President’s proposal also included a $4 million increase in funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and continued funding for the Division of Adolescent and School Health at the Center for Disease control. Additionally, it calls for a fiveyear extension of the Personal Responsibility Education Program, which provides grants to state agencies that aim to prevent unplanned pregnancy and STIs in teens.
If this proposal were to pass, states would still have the ability to promote abstinence-only education but would have to do so without any federal funding.
The budget proposal comes in President Obama’s final year in office and will likely be fought by the current Republican congress. The president’s proposal will be debated on Capitol Hill until the end of the fiscal year on Oct. 1.