Democracy & Government

Efforts to Curb Teen Pregnancy Face Drastic Cuts

Trump White House is intent on rolling back teen pregnancy prevention programs nationwide.

Efforts to Curb Teen Pregnancy Face Drastic Cuts

A social worker explains birth control options to a young woman at Children's Hospital Colorado's Colorado Adolescent Maternity Program in Denver. Colorado overall has seen an impressive 40 percent drop in teen births between 2009 and 2013 because of an initiative supplying some 30,000 free or low-cost IUDs to low-income women. (Photo by Marc Piscotty for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Teen pregnancy prevention advocates were shocked to find out that crucial programs they support were abruptly terminated and will be defunded next year. The Trump administration is completely defunding the nationwide Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, cutting $213 million in assistance that supports roughly 1.2 million teenagers across the country. Groups that rely of the funding got notice this month that as of June 30, 2018 their funding will be shut off. This means they all lose two years of already-allocated money.

The decision is part of the Trump administration’s backlash against Obama-era policies. This time, Donald Trump’s budget cuts are primarily aimed at poor teenagers, an already vulnerable section of the population. These cuts will not only reduce services provided by clinics and prevention programs, but also dramatically affect the research activities of groups dedicated to optimizing and improving health care for teenagers.

This backlash isn’t only coming from the White House. For instance, in Texas, local legislators have introduced measures to significantly reduce access to reproductive health benefits and education for pregnant teens. They’ve already losing the federal funding — and the state has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation.

Michelle Chen from The Nation reports that:

In Texas, teen birth rates are up. Moreover, the jump in teen moms has been concentrated in poor communities.

Anti-abortion groups’ continued push for total defunding of Planned Parenthood continues to expand the Christian right’s battlefront against reproductive health — making poor, vulnerable women live the consequences of politicians’ bad choices.

Nationwide, teen pregnancy had been declining over the past decade, especially after the Obama administration took steps to increase reproductive health access and made access to some contraception mandatory under the Affordable Care Act.

Molly Redden from The Guardian writes:

From 2010 to 2016, the teen birth rate nationally plummeted 41 percent. No other six-year period saw a decline even half that size. The shift took place right as the Obama administration was making unprecedented investments in sex education and other programming proven to reduce teen pregnancy.

Administrators for these programs received simply stated notices that their work was no longer in line with the priorities of the administration. It hasn’t taken long to make clear that the undermining of women’s reproductive health will be a common theme of the Trump White House.

Uncertainty has kept this change under the radar. The Trump administration is as-yet unclear about which government agency was in charge of making the decision. Redden adds:

The culprit behind the cuts is something of a mystery. One suspect is the Office of Management and Budget, which in May released a budget proposal gutting dozens of social programs. Another is the office of the assistant secretary for health, which indirectly oversees the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and is run by a Trump appointee, Valerie Huber, who has lobbied for federal funding of abstinence education.

Read more installments in our series “While He was Tweeting” – keeping an eye on Trump’s wrecking ball.