Last week the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees passed Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) fiscal year (FY) 2016 funding bills out of their respective committees along party-line votes. Both bills would all but eliminate the evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI) program while as much as tripling funding for failed and harmful abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) programs.
Whichever way you look at the TPPI funding numbers – the House’s $91 million (90%) cut or the Senate’s $81 million (80%) cut and complete elimination of evaluation resources by both – reducing TPPI funding to $10 million or even $20 million from its current level of $101 million would devastate the program and severely diminish the number of young people served.
Even more astounding than the near elimination of TPPI are the proposed increases for a new AOUM program. While it's bad enough that the House bill doubles AOUM funding, the Senate bill goes even further and includes a 300% increase for these demeaning and stigmatizing programs. For decades Congress ignored the lack of evidence to support the more than $1.7 billion wasted on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Now they seek to use shaky science and co-opted terms like a flexible definition of evidence to try to advance their goal of promoting “refraining from non-marital sexual activity.”
Monica Rodriguez, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS):
“At a time when Congress claims to be concerned about wasteful spending, throwing five years’ worth of investment and success aside defies common sense.
Sexual health is about so much more than preventing unintended pregnancy or disease and we’re far from doing all we can to support the sexual health of our nation.
Despite the lack of a federal comprehensive sexuality education program, we’ve made huge strides thanks to programs like TPPI that rely on science and evaluation to continually improve efforts that work to support adolescent sexual health. It’s a travesty to cut funding for effective programs and increase funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that denigrate youth and withhold lifesaving information.
When will Congress prioritize the health and lives of our nation’s young people?”
After this recent flurry of LHHS appropriations activity in Congress, further action on either bill is unlikely until the fall. Even then, the total topline funding level for FY 2016 will be a major point of contention and negotiation in moving toward a final Omnibus funding bill.
In the meantime, it’s imperative that Congress hear from you! Please take Take Actiontoday and tell your congressional delegation to fully fund TPPI and stop wasteful spending on AOUM programs.
For more information, please see SIECUS’ new policy factsheetsor contact Jesse Boyer, Director of Public Policy at firstname.lastname@example.org.