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New York Rejects Federal Abstinence-Only Dollars!

Rachel Hart,
Reproductive Freedom Project
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September 21, 2007

Yesterday, the New York Civil Liberties Union released a report examining federal funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in the state. Financing Ignorance: A Report on Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding in New York investigates 39 abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in the state that had received federal funding through 2006.On the heels of yesterday’s report, the New York State Department of Health released a statement announcing that in July 2007 it had cancelled all existing abstinence-only contracts, and, in keeping with “Governor Spitzer’s progressive health care agenda,” made the conscious decision not to reapply for federal abstinence-only funds in the future. Calling the Bush Administration’s funding of abstinence-only programs “an example of a failed national health care policy directive, based on ideology rather than on sound scientific-based evidence,” the Department said it would begin efforts to provide teens with comprehensive sex ed:

Beginning October 1, 2007, New York is redirecting state funds to expand comprehensive sexuality education in schools and other community settings that will provide teens with medically accurate information and life skills to equip them with the necessary tools that they need to make the crucial healthy life choices needed for a healthy adulthood.

An article in The New York Times said New York had joined at least 10 states that have turned down federal abstinence-only dollars.There is still, however, much more work to be done. Over $5 million in federal abstinence-only dollars will continue to flow into the state through community organizations that receive their funding directly from the federal government, and there exists no state-wide mandate for school districts to provide teens with comprehensive sex ed. The Healthy Teens Act, a bill that would mandate schools to provide teens with medically accurate, age- appropriate, information on how to protect against unintended pregnancy and STDs remains in the legislature.

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