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New York Rejects Millions in Federal Abstinence-Only Education Money

New York’s top health official announced Thursday that the state had canceled all existing federal Title V abstinence-only education contracts. According to the New York Times, the state has received approximately $3.5 million a year in federal abstinence funds since 1998. State health commissioner Richard Daines also said New York will redirect $2.6 million in state funds once designated for abstinence education to comprehensive sex education. Daines said the decision was based on evidence that the abstinence-only programs had little effect on teen pregnancy rates.

“The Bush administration’s Abstinence Only Program is an example of a failed national health-care policy directive, based on ideology rather than on sound scientific-based evidence that must be the cornerstone of good public health-care policy,” Daines said in a statement.

The announcement came on the same day that the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) released a report detailing the failings of the state’s abstinence-only programs. The study found that New York’s abstinence-only programs “have used materials that rely on scare tactics, contain inaccurate and medically unsound information, include religious messages and leave youth unprepared to make healthy decisions about sexuality…”

Since 1996, over $1.5 billion in federal and state matching funds have been committed to abstinence-only programs. In fact, because of the requirement that states match federal funds for such programs, state funding that previously went to comprehensive sexuality education have been diverted to abstinence-only programs, according to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The Times Union reports that at least ten other states have rejected federal abstinence-only money in recent years. Until now, New York had ranked as the third largest recipient of federal abstinence money, behind only Texas and Florida, according to the NYCLU.

Sources:

New York Times 9/21/07; NYCLU Press Release 9/20/07; Times Union 9/21/07; NY State Health Commissioner Statement 9/20/07; Feminist Daily News 8/21/07; SIECUS Press Release 9/21/07; Planned Parenthood Fact Sheet

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