November 2007 (To print, click the print icon on your browser
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Virginia Rejects Title V Federal Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funds

n October 2007, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine released the commonwealth’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget, which included a statement that Virginia would not be applying for Title V federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funds next year. Specifically, the Governor’s budget states, “Eliminate general funding match for federal Abstinence Grant…Formal program evaluations at the federal level have indicated that this particular program is no more effective than any other birth control education effort.”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.

In Fiscal Year 2008, Virginia would have had to dedicate $275,000 in state funds to match the Title V grant. Recent budget shortfalls in Virginia influenced Governor Kaine’s decision.

Governor Kaine also cited recent studies about the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in his decision.2 Delacey Skinner, Governor Kaine’s communications director, affirmed that effective sex education programs must include information about contraceptives as well as abstinence. “The governor supports abstinence-based education, but the governor wants to see us funding programs that are evidenced-based,” said Skinner.3  Title V programs are prohibited from discussing contraceptives except in the context of failure rates and have never been proven effective. 

Recent studies, including the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’s Emerging Answers 2007, present strong evidence that abstinence-only programs do not have any impact on teen sexual behavior.

Thirteen other states have also withdrawn from the Title V abstinence-only-until marriage funding.  Including Virginia’s returned funds, rejected Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program funding will amount to about 1/3 of all money being left unspent and returned to the federal treasury.

Though organizations such as the National Abstinence Education Association are pressuring the governor to apply for the funds by claiming that comprehensive sexuality education does not stress the importance of abstinence, Virginia advocates strongly support the governor’s decision. “There is no evidence that abstinence-only programs equip teens with the education they need to delay sexual activity or prevent unintended pregnancies or the spread of sexually transmitted disease,” said Becky Reid, an organizer for Planned Parenthood Health Systems.4

“We thank Governor Kaine for his decision,” echoed William Smith, vice president for public policy at SIECUS. “This allows Virginia to move forward in ensuring that its students have access to the most comprehensive and accurate information about sexuality education.”

References

  1. Governor’s FY08 Budget Reduction Plan: Detailed Report,  (Richmond, VA: Department of Planning and Budget,1 October 2007), p. 35, accessed 29 November 2007,  <http://www.governor.virginia.gov/TempContent/2008BudgetReductionPlan10-01-2007.pdf>.
  2. Tyler Whitely, “Abstinence funding gets help,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, 21 November 2007,  accessed 29 November 2007, <http://www.inrich.com/cva/ric/news/state.apx.-content-articles-RTD-2007-11-21-0116.html>.
  3. Tim Craig, “Abstinence-Only Sex-Ed Funds Cut Off by Kaine,” The Washington Post, 13 November 2007, accessed 29 November 2007, <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/12/AR2007111201716.html>.
  4. Ibid.