Bush to Ask Congress for 33% Increase in Abstinence Education Funding in 2003 Budget
In his fiscal year 2003 budget proposal to Congress next week, President Bush will ask for $135 million for "abstinence-only" sex education programs, "fulfil[ling]" his promise to spend as much money on abstinence education programs as on contraception programs, the AP/Raleigh News & Observer reports. The administration's requested allocation for abstinence programs constitutes a 33% increase over this year's funding level of $102 million (Meckler, AP/Raleigh News & Observer, 1/31). Federal funding for abstinence programs comes from several sources, including the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, the 1981 Adolescent Family Life Act and HHS grants. The Welfare Reform Act, which is up for reauthorization this year, granted $50 million per year over five years to states for the provision of abstinence education. Programs funded with this money may not discuss "the benefits" of contraception. However, many states were "[u]ncomfortable" with the restrictions on the programs and instead used the funding to provide "pro-virginity media campaigns" or after-school programs that "make little if any mention of sex or abstinence," the AP/Nando Times reports. Some conservative lawmakers "complained that states were dodging the intent" of the abstinence programs and created a new fund for abstinence education that consists of grants distributed directly by HHS. Programs funded through the HHS grants "overtly discuss the value of not having sex." The administration's proposed funding increases for next year are found in the HHS program. The administration's total funding request for abstinence programs is broken down as follows: $50 million through the Welfare Reform Act, "at least for the first year," a consistent level of funding with this year; $73 million in HHS grants, an increase of $33 million; and $12 million through the Adolescent Family Life program, the same as this year (Meckler, AP/Nando Times, 1/31).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.