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States continue to turn down federal ab-only dollars

Rachel Hart,
Reproductive Freedom Project
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December 19, 2007

The Washington Post reported today that at least 14 states have turned down federal funds to teach abstinence-only-until-marriage programs:

The number of states refusing federal money for "abstinence-only" sex education programs jumped sharply in the past year as evidence mounted that the approach is ineffective.

At least 14 states have either notified the federal government that they will no longer be requesting the funds or are not expected to apply, forgoing more than $15 million of the $50 million available, officials said.

The jump in states opting out follows a series of reports questioning the effectiveness of the approach, including one commissioned by Congress that was released earlier this year. In addition, federal health officials have reported that a 14-year drop in teenage pregnancy rates appears to have reversed.

The program was started as part of the 1996 welfare reform. California, however, dropped out in 2000, forgoing more than $7 million it was eligible to receive, and Maine opted out in 2005, giving up $161,000. Most states, however, did participate. New Jersey decided to opt out last year, rejecting more than $900,000 in funding, and others followed.

The reasons given for passing up the federal money vary from state to state. Some governors publicly repudiated the programs. Others quietly let their applications lapse or blamed tight budgets that made it impossible to meet the requirement to provide matching state funds. Still others are asking for more flexibility.

And an article in The Dallas Morning News indicates that New Mexico is the most recent state to turn down funding:

The state Department of Health has not reapplied for federal funds for abstinence only programs in New Mexico schools next year.

Health Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil says the department supports programs that give scientific, balanced and complete information to young people.

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