Teen Pregnancy Prevention No Longer a Priority Under Trump Administration

Published Jul 5, 2017

The Trump Administration cut over $200 million in funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs and research.

What happened: The Trump Administration cut over $200 million in funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs and research.

Why it matters: Grants awarded during the Obama Administration will be terminated halfway through the grant period, ending many projects already underway. The decision eliminates critical research designed to find scientifically sound ways to prevent unwanted teen pregnancies.

The Department of Health and Human Services is cutting $213.6 million in funding from teen pregnancy programs and research at 80 institutions across the country. Cuts were made through an appropriations subcommittee rather than through the typical federal budget process, thus the decision came as a shock to many programs around the nation.

HHS will end five-year grants for teen pregnancy prevention research midway through the grant period, a decision that is both highly unusual and wasteful, as it means that many researchers will be unable to analyze data they have already collected. Furthermore, researchers will not have the financial resources to incorporate their findings into assistance programs for teenagers.

Among the projects losing funding are John’s Hopkins work with the Apache tribe, the University of Texas’ guidance for youth in foster care, and the Chicago Department of Public Health’s counseling and testing for STDs. A $2.9 million annual grant shared by the Children’s Hospital at UCLA, the University of Michigan, the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute, and EngenderHealth, and Youth Catalytics was also terminated. On July 5, Meagan Downey of Youth Catalytics, who coordinates the project funded by this grant, received a letter stating that the cut was a result of changing program priorities and that her project was no longer in the federal government’s interest.

This move will limit teen access to contraceptives and promote an abstinence-only approach to sex education. Many of the Trump Administration’s top appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services, including Tom Price and Valerie Huber, have previously advocated for abstinence-only sex education and criticized federal funding for birth control programs.

Pat Paluzzi at the Healthy Teen Network in Baltimore said that the decision is “part and parcel of the shift to abstinence-only dollars.” “They don’t like to deal with the sexual reproductive health of teens,” he continued. “They frame it in this country as moral issues. Public health issues shouldn’t be political issues.”