Congressional Democrats Want to Scrap Federal Abstinence Funds

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 18, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Congressional Democrats Want to Scrap Federal Abstinence Funds Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 18
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — Congressional Democrats said on Wednesday that they don’t plan to reauthorize federal funding for the Title V abstinence education program, which expires at the end of June. Pro-abortion lawmakers claim the programs have not been effective and want to see more money spent on birth control and the morning after pill.

In his latest budget, President Bush has asked Congress to appropriate $191 million for the program for fiscal year 2008, an increase of $28 million from FY 2007 funding levels

Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who heads the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which considers the funding, cited the Mathematica Policy Research study claming abstinence education doesn’t work.

However, more analysis of the study showed that it only tracked less than one percent of the 700 abstinence programs that receive federal funding.

"The four programs that Mathematica evaluated (beginning in 1999) have already been revised and improved, and they are by no means representative of abstinence education as a whole," Family Research Council president Tony Perkins told

Perkins also condemned the decision to cut the funding.

"Despite its meager 29% approval rating, the new Congress seems intent on pushing a radical agenda that few voters expected–or supported–when they propelled the Democrats to power," he said.

Still, abortion advocates want the money dropped and they’ve started their efforts in states like California, Maine, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which have all rejected Title V funds.

Drew Hammil, spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, told CQ Today that she wants more money for "comprehensive sexuality education."

Rep. Barbara Lee, like Pelosi a pro-abortion California Democrat, introduced a bill in March that would provide grants to promote "family life education," by combining abstinence education and sex education.

Pro-life lawmakers said they will do what they can to keep federal funding for abstinence in place.

Skip Brown, a spokesman for pro-life Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Joe Pitts, told CQ Today, "By killing [Title V], Democrats are going against the wishes of most parents."

In fact, a new Zogby poll finds 83% of parents want their children to save sex until marriage and a majority of families believe that programs should reinforce the abstinence message when broaching sex ed in the classroom.

Once they understand what abstinence education actually teaches, 6 out of 10 parents would rather their child receive abstinence education vs. comprehensive sex education. Only 3 out of 10 prefer comprehensive, Zogby showed.

Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Program, said Title V provides "a public health message that offers risk-elimination for youth," adding that the decision to stop its funding will cause supporters of the program to work harder to maintain it.

Perkins called on pro-life advocates to contact Congress and urge strong support for the funding.

"Without a powerful grassroots campaign from people like you who support self-control over birth control for teens, Title V will expire for good," he said.

He warned that if funding its cut, states will not only lose their abstinence funding, they’ll also lose the guidelines that govern all of the federal abstinence dollars. In other words, the criteria that protect the "abstinence-only" message could be changed to force programs to include information about "safe sex."