May 8, 2017
Overshadowed by the disastrous passage of the American Health Care Act in the U.S. House of Representatives last Thursday, May 4, 2017, it went relatively unnoticed that the U.S. Senate followed the House in passing the compromise funding legislation. The bill, signed by President Trump on Friday, extends federal funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2017 through September 30, 2017. While this bill saves adolescent sexual health promotion programs, it also increased total abstinence-only funding to an eight-year high.
We are grateful to the Congressional champions who reaffirmed their commitment to the health and well-being of young people by standing firm against the onslaught of attacks on the Office of Adolescent Health’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program to secure continued funding at $101 million.
It is a travesty, however, that the trade-off for supporting this evidence-informed program is a 50 percent increase to the annually funded, so-called “sexual risk avoidance” abstinence-only-until-marriage grant program. This increase brings the year's total federal funding wasted on harmful abstinence-only-until-marriage programs to $90 million, an unconscionable use of limited federal resources when we know we continue to fail to meet lifelong sexuality education and sexual health needs and rights of young people.
While SIECUS is pleased that funding was secured to continue supporting the sexual health and well-being of young people, in light of the overarching threat to health care access after the AHCA vote, we will continue to remain vigilant to protect and pursue equitable access to education and health care services for all people.