Blog of Rights

Federal Watchdog Agency Says Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Programs Must Contain Medically Accurate Information!

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 12:56pm
Yesterday the Government Accountability Office (GAO) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) advising HHS to reexamine its position on the Public Health Service Act. The Act requires educational materials to contain medically accurate information about condom effectiveness. HHS is the government agency that administers federal grants to support abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. This summer the agency announced that the Act's medical accuracy requirements don't apply to federal grantees because: the primary purpose of federally funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs is not to address STDs, and materials prepared by grantees are for various target populations and not for the general population. The GAO didn't find either of these reasons to be legitimate reasons for noncompliance, but more importantly isn't it just absurd that the government's "principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans" goes to such great lengths to ensure that abstinence-only grantees are not bound by federal law requiring medically accurate information regarding condom effectiveness! I guess we will have to wait and see how HHS will respond and whether or not it will start complying with federal law. (In case you're curious, the GAO is a federal nonpartisan agency that investigates the expenditure of taxpayer dollars for Congress. You can learn more about the GAO here.)
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