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Sen. Lautenberg, Rep. Lee Introduce Bill to Halt Federal Funding for Abstinence-Only EducationLautenberg Press Office, 202-224-3224
Wednesday, September 29, 2010WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced legislation that would bring an end to the era of federal funding being used to support abstinence-only-until-marriage education programs. Since 1996, the United States has spent more than $1.5 billion for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that a Congressionally mandated study found fail to effectively teach teens how to prevent unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. The Lautenberg-Lee legislation would ensure that federal funding is instead provided for comprehensive sex education.
“Our legislation would eliminate wasteful spending and focus federal resources on comprehensive sex ed programs that are proven to work,” Lautenberg said. “Young adults need access to all the information available to make smart decisions about their health. Our nation’s young people should be able to get the education they need to take on the real life situations facing them every day.”
“We cannot afford to keep our head in the sand regarding issues surrounding sex education by restricting funding to abstinence-only programs,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The issues of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections among our young people have reached a critical level. The best and most responsible way to protect them is through comprehensive sex education.”
The “Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act” would strike Title V, Section 510 from the Social Security Act. That provision has been the funding mechanism for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs for nearly 15 years. The bill would reprogram $50 million annually to evidence-based, comprehensive sex education programs funded through the Personal Responsibility Education (PREP) program. PREP funds comprehensive sex education programs that provide both abstinence and contraception information to teens and educate them about sexually transmitted diseases.
The legislation is supported by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) and the Guttmacher Institute, which co-chair a coalition advocating for comprehensive sex education programs. Other coalition members in support of the legislation include, Advocates for Youth, AIDS Action, The AIDS Institute, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Catholics for Choice, Choice USA, Human Rights Campaign, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Council of Jewish Women, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, National Partnership for Women & Families, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Population Council.
“The Repealing Ineffective and Incomplete Abstinence-Only Program Funding Act is the right legislation at the right time,” said Jen Heitel Yakush, director of public policy at SIECUS. “New funding is finally available for evidence-based comprehensive sex education and it is counterproductive to continue funding the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program, which is, at best, a complete waste of time and money. We are grateful to those policymakers, under the leadership of Senator Lautenberg and Congresswoman Lee, who see the importance of removing ideology from federally funded sex education and shifting funds to PREP.”
Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), John Kerry (D-MA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) are original co-sponsors of the Senate bill.