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New York Rejects Title V Federal Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding

On September 20, 2007, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Richard F. Daines announced that New York will reject Title V federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding for the upcoming fiscal year.1 Dr. Daines stated, “The Bush administration’s abstinence-only program is an example of a failed national healthcare policy directive…” and that the policy was “…based on ideology rather than on sound scientific-based evidence that must be the cornerstone of good public healthcare policy.”2

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has allocated $50 million in federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding under Title V each year since 1998. States that choose to accept these funds must match every four federal dollars with three state-raised dollars and are then responsible for either using the funds or distributing them to public and private entities.

In Fiscal Year 2006, New York received more than $10.5 million in federal funding for abstinence-only-until marriage programs, including more than $3.5 million in Title V funds.  These Title V funds have gone to such programs as H.O.P.E. Initiatives CDC, Inc. whose “The FACTS Project” uses the FACTS: Family Accountability Communicating Teen Sexuality curriculum. The FACTS curricula provide incomplete and inaccurate medical information, present opinions and beliefs as universal truths, and portray a biased view of gender, marriage, family structure, sexual orientation, and pregnancy options. For example, FACTS includes the following list of negative consequences of premarital sex: “pregnancy, financial aspect of fatherhood, abortion, HIV/AIDS, STDs, guilt, rejection, loss of reputation, inability to bond in the future, challenge to not compare future sexual partners, alienation from friends and family, poverty, and the inability to complete school.”3

Currently there is no federal funding stream dedicated to comprehensive sexuality education programs.  Since 1982, however, the U.S. government has spent over $1.5 billion on unproven abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.  Of that, over $800 million has been spent during the current administration.  Under the leadership of President Bush there has been a continued expansion of investment in these programs with more than $175 million allocated in Fiscal Year 2007 alone.  These programs are prohibited from discussing contraceptives except in the context of failure rates and have never been proven effective. 

Eleven other states have also withdrawn from the Title V abstinence-only-until marriage funding.  Including New York’s returned funds, rejected Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program funding will amount to nearly 1/3 of all money being left unspent and returned to the federal treasury.

“Governor Spitzer’s decision to end state funding for abstinence-only programs and to stop accepting overly restrictive money from the federal government shows his commitment to the young people of New York,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at the SIECUS. “Title V has provided funding for fear-based, medically inaccurate programs for too long, in New York and across the country.  Refusing Title V money sends a strong message to politicians in Washington to stop the extremism and allow states to use their money as they see fit,” continued Smith.

References

  1. Jennifer Medina, “New York Just Says No to Abstinence Funding,” The New York Times, 21 September 2007, <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/21/nyregion/21schools.html?_
    r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print
    >.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Rose Fuller et al., FACTS and Reason (Portland, OR: Northwest Family Services, 2000); Rose Fuller et al., I’m in Charge of the FACTS (Portland, OR: Northwest Family Services, 2000). For more information, see SIECUS’ review of FACTS at <http://www.communityactionkit.org/curricula_reviews.html>.

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