Senate Finance Committee Votes to Fund Comprehensive Sex Education
Failed Title V Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding Also Restored
Washington, DC – Late last night, the Senate Finance Committee approved an amendment offered by Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) to fund a comprehensive sex education funding stream, The Personal Responsibility Education for Adulthood Training.The amendment provides $75 million for states; $50 million of which would be geared to evidence-based, medically accurate, age-appropriate programs to educate adolescents about both abstinence and contraception in order to prevent unintended teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS. The remaining funds would be for innovative programs as well as research and evaluation. The amendment passed 14–9 with Republican Senator Olympia Snowe (ME) joining all the Democrats voting in favor.
“We would like to thank Chairman Baucus and his staff for their strong support of a comprehensive approach to sex education, ensuring that all young people have access to information so that they can make responsible decisions and lead healthy and safe lives,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). “The Baucus Amendment creates a new comprehensive sex education program for the states and can be easily reconciled with a similar measure, the Healthy Teen Initiative, on the House side. This is a huge step in putting evidence and common sense over hypermorality and will get states the money they need to support good programming.”
There was also a vote on an amendment introduced by Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) that reinstated funding for the failed Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program which had expired on June 30, 2009. The amendment passed 12–11 with Democratic Senators Blanche Lincoln (AR) and Kent Conrad (ND) joining all the Republicans on the Committee in favor. Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funding had been refused by nearly half of the states both because of the restrictive nature of the program and the fact that overwhelming evidence has proven these programs to be ineffective and a waste of taxpayer dollars. This amendment would direct $50 million a year through FY 2014 for the extension of the Title V abstinence-only programs.
“This amendment takes a giant step backward by restoring funding for the failed and discredited abstinence-only-until-marriage program for the states,” continued Smith. “However, because this program so clearly doesn’t work and half the states don’t even participate, we are confident it will be stripped from the final bill and ask Congressional leaders and the White House to ensure this happens.”
Both amendments still face several potential hurdles in committee, on the Senate floor, and in conference with the House before they become law.
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