The US House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation to support comprehensive sex education yesterday, adding the Healthy Teen Initiative amendment to the proposed health care reform bill, Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. The amendment, introduced by Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA), is intended to expand on the more limited teen pregnancy initiative outlined in President Obama’s first budget request, reports RH Reality Check.
The Healthy Teen Initiative allocates $50 million dollars in state grant funding for “evidence-based education programs…to reduce teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.” The grants would be available to public and private nonprofit programs, including those presented in schools, community-based, and faith-based organizations.
While the amendment passed by a vote of 33 to 23, an alternative amendment that would have extended funding for abstinence-only programs failed by only 3 votes. Congressman Lee Terry (R-NE) proposed the failed amendment to extend funding that expired this year for Title V abstinence-only sex education programs.
The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) applauded the introduction of the Healthy Teen Initiative amendment. “It is far past time that we start addressing the challenges to health and well being of young people with programs that comprehensively address sexual health and behavior instead of with programs that are ideologically based or narrowly focused. Thanks to the leadership of the Energy and Commerce Committee, we are one step closer to achieving this goal,” states their press release.