by Steven Ertelt
September 20, 2005
Augusta, ME (LifeNews.com) — Maine Gov. John Baldacci has told the Bush administration that it will not accept federal funding the state is authorized to receive for abstinence education. Baldacci doesn’t want to accept the grant because the money could only be used on abstinence and could not be used to teach about methods of birth control.
Baldacci’s decision makes Maine only the third state, along with California and Pennsylvania, to reject the abstinence education grants approved by Congress.
The state previously accepted the abstinence funds from 1998 through last year. On Monday, however, Baldacci officials said the governor did not apply for the $165,000 eligible to the state during the 2005 fiscal year and would not apply for the $161,000 the state could receive in 2006.
Previously the state has run public service announcements on television encouraging teenagers in Maine to abstain from sex until marriage and urged parents to talk more with their children about the benefits of abstinence.
The best known ads featured teens promoting abstinence and the tag line, "Not me, not now."
Dr. Dora Anne Mills, the state’s public-health director, told the Kennebec Journal newspaper that the state’s pregnancy rates have dropped substantially as a result of the ads. Mills said one in 14 teenage girls in Maine were pregnant in 1985, and that fell to one in 27 in 2003.
Still, she said she opposes using the money because the state can’t discuss birth control.
"This money is more harmful than it is good," Mills said. "You can’t talk about comprehensive reproductive information."
Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, which has conducted comprehensive studies showing abstinence education is superior to sex education programs, believes the decision is "definitely an anomaly."
He told the Journal, "I think abstinence is basically gaining ground all the time," and added that Maine’s decision won’t prompt a slew of other states to do the same.
Since 1997, the federal government has spent more than $700 million taxpayer dollars on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. This year President Bush proposed an additional $39 million for fiscal year 2006, which would bring the total federal dollars spent on these programs per year to $206 million.