Congress released the final FY 2010 appropriations bill Wednesday night, which eliminates traditional sources of funding for abstinence-only programs and instead provides funding for “a new evidence-based teenage pregnancy prevention initiative.” The bill calls for $114.5 million to be appropriated for the new programs, which will include age appropriate and medically accurate information on both contraception and abstinence, will be distributed through the new Office of Adolescent Health under the Department of Health and Human Services. A 2004 study by the House Committee on Government Reform, conducted at the request of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-30-CA) found that over 80% of the curricula used in the largest federally funded abstinence-only programs contained “false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health.”
Despite the elimination of abstinence-only funds, there is some criticism of the sex education funding as currently allocated. President and CEO of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, Joseph DiNorcia, Jr., said in a press release, “we do think that by focusing the funding on teen pregnancy prevention, and not including the equally important health issues of STDs and HIV, Congress has missed an opportunity to provide true, comprehensive sex education that promotes healthy behaviors and relationships for all young people.”
A provision that would eliminate a prohibition on using DC-raised monies for abortion within the District was also maintained in the final version of the bill.
The final version of the bill also removed a Senate amendment that would have permanently repealed the Global Gag Rule. In July, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the amendment that would have overturned the “Mexico City Policy” first instituted by President Reagan in 1984. The policy was repealed by President Clinton, reinstituted by George W. Bush and rescinded by President Obama in January. When implemented, the policy bars international aid organizations that receive US funds from using any funds (from the US or other sources) to provide abortion counseling and services. According to the International Women’s Health Coalition, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) spearheaded an effort in the conference committee to preserve this provision.