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 Home > News & Policies > February 2002


Encourage Abstinence and Prevent Teen Pregnancy


The sexual revolution that began in the 1960s has left two major problems in its wake. The first is the historic increase in non-marital births that have contributed so heavily to the Nation’s domestic problems including poverty, violence, and intergenerational welfare dependency. The second is the explosion of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that now pose a growing hazard to the Nation’s public health.

To address these problems, the goal of Federal policy should be to emphasize abstinence as the only certain way to avoid both unintended pregnancies and STDs.

Summary of Proposals

Reauthorization for Abstinence Education Funding. The 1996 welfare reform bill appropriated $50 million per year for five years for states to establish abstinence education programs. As long as states carefully observe the definition of abstinence education in the statue, states have great flexibility in the type of abstinence education program they implement. For example, states could establish classroom programs in the public schools or they could conduct media campaigns. Nearly every state has used this money to implement a wide range of programs aimed at promoting abstinence. In 1997, Congress appropriated funds to conduct a scientific evaluation of several of these state programs. This evaluation is now well underway and is expected to begin yielding results on program impacts on sexual activity, pregnancy, and other measures by 2003. Given the pending welfare reform reauthorization, Congress cannot wait on these results. Thus, the Administration is recommending that the Abstinence Education program, including its strong definition of how its funds must be spent, be reauthorized at the same level of funding as in 1996.

Community Based Abstinence Education. The President’s 2003 budget increases funding for the Human Resources and Services Administration’s Community-Based abstinence education grants from $40 million in 2002 to $73 million in 2003, a 83 percent increase. The funding increase will ensure that more communities across the country are able to deliver the message that abstinence is the surest way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy and STDs. This funding will also finance comprehensive evaluations of abstinence education programs.

Adolescent Family Life. The Adolescent Family Life (AFL) abstinence program provides abstinence education to more than 112,000 adolescents by emphasizing that abstinence is the most effective means of preventing out-of-wedlock pregnancy and abortion. Most of the abstinence education programs financed by AFL occur in school settings, both during and after school. The Administration proposes continuing the current funding of $12 million for this program.

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