Federal Abstinence Education Programs Set To Spend Record $120M in FY 2003
The federal government in fiscal year 2003 is set to spend a record $120 million on abstinence education, the Washington Times reports. The funding includes $67 million in ongoing programs included in the omnibus spending bill signed on Feb. 20 by President Bush, $3.6 million in one-time earmarked grants and $50 million in Title V Abstinence Education Grant Program funding that is included in pending welfare reform legislation. The government, which funds abstinence education through three programs, provided $80 million in 2001 and $100 million in 2002 for such education. According to the Times, the omnibus bill includes $12 million for the Title XX Adolescent Family Life Act -- up from $10 million in previous years -- and $55 million for the Special Programs of Regional and National Significance-Community Based Abstinence Education -- up from $40 million in FY 2002. The Washington, D.C.-based Best Friends Foundation and the Golf, Ill.-based Project Reality -- two "veteran" abstinence programs -- received $250,000 and $100,000 respectively for youth abstinence programs as part of the one-time funding allotments. In addition, 30 Pennsylvania school districts, agencies and community groups received $2.5 million for abstinence education, and the Silver Ring Thing of Sewickley, Pa., will receive $700,000 to expand its program of giving rings and abstinence education to teenagers, the Times reports. The proposed welfare reform bill includes $50 million annually for five years -- the same amount as in previous years -- for the Title V Abstinence Education Grant Program. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said, "Abstinence education is very valuable in promoting a viable alternative to sexual activity," adding that it can reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancy, STDs and single parenthood, according to the Times. But supporters of comprehensive sex education said that the funding is "dismay[ing]," especially after they asked lawmakers not to include any new funding for abstinence programs last year. Kate Bowen Smith of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States said, "We are ignoring our young people's need for accurate and complete information by investing in unproven abstinence programs" (Wetzstein, Washington Times, 3/24).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.