The health-care reform bill passed in the Senate on Christmas Eve includes $50 million for states to use for abstinence education funding, the Washington Postreports. Under President Bush, abstinence programs received about $150 million per year but the federal budget signed by President Obama does not include funds directed towards them.
The initiative includes $25 million for new, innovative programs that could potentially embrace those encouraging abstinence. But it does not earmark funding for programs focused on maintaining virginity. Some said the move was aimed at mollifying conservative critics, but [Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association] and others remained skeptical.
"There is absolutely no priority given to risk avoidance," Huber said. "So there is no certainty that even one dollar would go to this approach."
Huber estimated that more than 130 programs around the country, serving perhaps 1.5 million youths, will lose funding by September unless at least some money is restored through the health-reform legislation.
In September, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) pushed for the inclusion of an amendment in the Senate Finance Committee bill that would provide the funds for abstinence education programs.
"I was as surprised as anyone to see abstinence-only education programs funded in the final Reid health care bill. There must have been some Democrats who wanted to see the abstinence-only language included," Hatch said in a statement.
The House and Senate still must reconcile their versions of health-care legislation. According to the Post, the House bill includes $50 million to fund sex education programs while the Senate's version includes $75 million for additional sex education programs.