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Title V Abstinence-Only Funding Proposal to Reauthorize with Important Fixes

SIECUS Applauds Language on Medical Accuracy, Effectiveness, and Flexibility

WASHINGTON, DC — Yesterday, and as part of the Congress’ consideration of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), the U.S. House of Representatives proposed reauthorizing a portion of Title V of the Social Security Act, which currently provides states with $50 million in funding for extreme abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.  The program is set to expire on September 30, after being given a three month extension at the end of June.  The proposed reauthorization contains several improvements designed to remedy some of the severe shortcomings of the existing Title V program.  These include provisions that:

  • require funded programs to contain medically and scientifically accurate information;
  • give states the flexibility to use funds for more comprehensive programs which discuss abstinence, but may also include information on birth control;
  • require funded programs to have been proven effective at decreasing teen pregnancy, STD, and HIV/AIDS rates.

“We commend the Democratic leaders in the House for tackling this difficult issue and recognizing that the future will not hold unlimited federal funding for the failed and extreme abstinence-only-until-marriage industry,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).  “Yet moderation in courage is no virtue, so this same courage needs to be brought to bear on the Congressional appropriations process and undo the House’s increase for another stream of this extreme funding.”

Title V has received significant attention over the past year as many states have indicated they would not apply for the funds in the future.  Additionally, a major national evaluation conducted by the government found the program has no impact on behaviors.  Before today’s proposed improvements to existing law, Title V funds could be used solely for programs that followed a strict abstinence-only-until-marriage approach.  Some of these programs contained medical inaccuracies (such as claiming that HIV could be spread through tears), stated that sex outside of marriage was likely to cause physical and emotional harm, and none of the programs had ever been proven effective. 

“If this becomes law, it becomes incumbent upon the states to do the right thing,” continued Smith.  “This reauthorization puts an increased responsibility on them to make sure that any program failing to meet the criteria of effectiveness and medical accuracy set out today is not funded.”

The measure passed the House 225-204.  The Senate has not yet acted on Title V reauthorization.

For more information, contact Patrick Malone at or (212)819-9770 ext. 316.