FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 24, 2009
House Defeats Attack on Contraception, Passes Bill to Reverse Failed "Abstinence-Only" ProgramsAppropriations bill funds President Obama's teen-pregnancy prevention proposal; protects family-planning funding
Washington, D.C. – Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, lauded pro-choice members of Congress for passing an appropriations bill that eliminates funding for ineffective "abstinence-only" programs and for defeating an amendment from Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) that would have slashed funding for family-planning clinics. The House FY'10 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill also follows President Obama's budget proposal calling for investments in teen-pregnancy prevention.
"We commend President Obama, Chairman David Obey, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other pro-choice leaders in the House for this victory of sound science over political ideology," Keenan said. "As a former teacher and state superintendent of education, I am pleased to see the House move in such a positive direction. The best way to prevent teen pregnancy and help young people avoid sexually transmitted disease is to provide comprehensive, fact-based sex education in the classroom."
Over the past decade, more than $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars have been spent on "abstinence-until-marriage" programs that censor life-saving information about contraception from young people. NARAL Pro-Choice America has a longstanding position opposing these ineffective, dangerous programs. Multiple independent studies have shown that these programs do not work, and in some cases young people who participated in the programs actually increased their sexual activity. Continued federal funding of these ineffective programs is unacceptable, considering the country faces a reproductive-health crisis, with one in four teenage girls having a sexually transmitted disease, and one-third of teenage girls becoming pregnant before the age of 20.
Keenan continued, "Rep. Pence launched a direct attack on birth control and the hypocrisy in that is twofold. First, anti-choice politicians claim they oppose abortion, but then try to block women's access to contraception, which is the best way to reduce the need for abortion. Additionally, as Americans call on Congress to do something about the health-care crisis, Rep. Pence and those like him do the exact opposite and try to de-fund the national's cornerstone family-planning program. We're pleased that Congress defeated such an ill-advised proposal."
The Pence amendment is a thinly disguised attack on contraception. Of the 4,600 total health centers that receive Title X funds, Planned Parenthood operates 575 clinics. Disqualifying these health clinics from Title X would disrupt the program entirely - which unfortunately is the sponsor's likely goal.