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June 24, 2008

Senate Health-Spending Bill Represents Positive Step Forward for Reproductive Health

Senate bill saves tax dollars from disproven "abstinence-only" programs

Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, praised Senate appropriators for saving taxpayer funding from risky and discredited "abstinence-only" programs by $28.6 million in the FY’09 Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill.

"As a former teacher and state superintendent of education, I’m pleased that Senate leaders understand that taxpayers should not foot the bill for scientifically inaccurate and ineffective programs that mislead young people," Keenan said. "For six of the past eight years, pro-choice Americans have watched as President Bush and his anti-choice congressional allies relentlessly increased funding for dangerous ‘abstinence-only’ programs. This Senate bill will benefit teens and families across the country."

Under the Bush administration and previous anti-choice Congresses, discredited "abstinence-only" programs – which censor important public-health information about contraception – enjoyed huge, unmerited funding increases: in just five years they received a 485-percent increase, going from a funding level of $20 million in FY’01 to an all-time high of $113 million in FY’06. Fortunately, the new pro-choice led Congress is taking important steps to reverse this trend: the House FY’09 spending bill level funds "abstinence-only" programs, while the Senate bill goes ever further.

While disappointed that the Senate bill did not follow the House lead and increase spending for the Title X family-planning program, Keenan noted that the legislation also includes a provision to restore access to affordable birth control for millions of low-income and college women nationwide.

"We are pleased to see a Congress that shuns Bush-style politics of rhetoric and division, and instead focuses on positive policies to prevent unintended pregnancy and reduce the need for abortion – a commonsense goal that Americans of all political stripes support."

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