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House GOP Proposes Cuts to Sex Ed, Women's Health Programs

November 30, 2011

ST. LOUIS - In the name of balancing the federal budget, House Republicans have proposed cuts for teen pregnancy prevention programs, slashing funding from $110 million to $20 million. The proposal also revives funding for abstinence-only sex education programs, which research has shown have not been effective.

In Missouri, Allison Hile, executive director of the Teen Pregnancy and Prevention Partnership, says it isn't smart policy to move away from evidence-based sex education.

"If Congress really wanted to save money, they wouldn't be worried about the tiny bit they spend on preventing teen pregnancies. That has nothing to do with balancing the budget. It has everything to do with political posturing. And I think Congress is not aware of the fact that the majority of parents actually support comprehensive sex education."

Abstinence-only sex education had been practically eliminated after more than a decade of investing in programs that research found to be ineffective at reducing teen sexual activity. To bring it back, says the Rev. Rebecca Turner, executive director of Faith Aloud, is a step backward for communities as well as teens.

"Teen pregnancy is a concern for faith communities as well as a public health problem. It takes all of us working together to support teens with the very best information that's available."

Funding comprehensive sex education and family planning programs saves taxpayers' money in terms of Medicaid costs, Hile says.

"We know that every dollar spent on family-planning programs saves $5. So, we're actually wasting money by not funding family planning."

The proposed cuts to family planning services would affect an estimated 5 million low-income people. However, the idea is likely to meet strong resistance in the Senate, which did not include these cuts in its version of the spending bill.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO