In January 2008, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano announced that the state would refuse federal Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funding for Fiscal Year 2009. Governor Napolitano emphasized that she would only accept federal dollars that could be spent on “a curriculum that provides comprehensive and medically accurate sex education.”1
The U.S. Department of Health and Human services (HHS) has allocated $50 million in federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding under Title V each year since 1998. States that choose to accept these funds must match every four federal dollars with three state-raised dollars and are then responsible for either using the funds or distributing them to public and private entities.
Arizona’s current Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program will finish through Fiscal Year 2008, funded by $1.2 million in federal dollars and $780,000 from Arizona taxpayers.2
In April 2007, HHS released a study comparing students who had participated in federally funded abstinence-only programs to students who had not been involved. The study found that young people in both groups were equally as a likely to have sex, had the same average age for first intercourse, and the same average number of sexual partners.3
Governor Napolitano pointed to this research in her announcement, explaining that abstinence-only programs were not shown to be effective in decreasing teen pregnancy or preventing pre-marital sex amongst teens, and stating that she would not support Arizona funding for “an educational system that doesn’t educate.”4 Rather, the governor would like to see sex education programs that strongly encourage abstinence, provide accurate and comprehensive information about sexuality, and are shown to be effective.
Arizona advocates are backing the governor’s decision as a step in the right direction. “We are pleased that the Governor has decided to stop misusing taxpayer dollars to support programs that give teens medically inaccurate and gender-biased information,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. “Considering the state’s current fiscal crisis and the fact that we have the second highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, now is not the time to continue ineffective programs.”5
Arizona is the sixteenth state to refuse Title V abstinence-only-until marriage funding. “Now that more than 1/3 of states have announced their intentions to abandon this failed program, you would think Congress would wake up and start funding something that worked,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). “Congress should act now by stopping all funding for Bush’s billion dollar fiasco and pass the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act, which would fund programs that actually help young people abstain and protect themselves when they do have become sexually active,” concluded Smith.
- Fischer, Howard, “Napolitano rejects abstinence-only funds,” Arizona Daily Star, 24 January 2008, accessed 31 January 2008, <http://www.azstarnet.com/metro/221980>.
- “ACLU of Arizona Applauds Governor’s Rejection of Abstinece-Only Funds,” ACLU-AZ, 18 January 2008, accessed 31 January 2008, <http://www.acluaz.org/News/PressReleases/1_18_08.html>.