Obama Budget Eliminates Funding for Abstinence-Only Sex Education

Proposed budget sets aside funds for comprehensive sex education programs instead.

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President Obama today unveiled a budget for fiscal year 2010 that is sure to have some reproductive health activists cheering as he continues to fulfill the predictions I made for women's health policies when he was first elected. The new budget eliminates federal funding for the teaching of abstinence-only sex education in schools.

[Read about Bristol Palin's push for abstinence.]

Instead of promoting abstinence ed, Obama is proposing a new teen pregnancy prevention initiative that supports "evidence-based" and "promising" models. Once again, Obama is reversing policies set in place under President Bush, who asked for more than $100 million in funds last year for abstinence-only programs. Several states opted to turn down federal funds rather than be forced to forgo contraception education in public schools.

The new budget includes $50 million in funds for states to use for teen pregnancy prevention programs. What's not clear, though, is which comprehensive sex education programs will be funded. There's quite a bit of difference among them, with some far better than others. It's also not clear how "evidence-based" will be defined. Just how many studies are needed to determine if a program is effective? And how few are needed to deem a program "promising"? You can see the full budget here; scroll down to page 39 to see the part about teen pregnancy programs.

[Find details of the full debate over sex education.]