The Republican’s war on health care appeared to die a death with the triple failure of their Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal session, but the President himself still seems hell bent on dismantling the legacy of his predecessor. To wit, the Trump administration has suddenly cut funding to a major teenage pregnancy prevention program that has been credited with lowering the country’s abysmally high rate.
As per The Hill, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) notified 81 institutions across America that the substantial five-year funding grants given to them by the Obama administration would suddenly end now, just three years into them. This equates to a cut of around $200 million to a vital health care program – and no explanation was given as to why this decision was made.
The Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) initiative was launched in 2010. Hundreds of millions of dollars were allocated back then, and in 2015, to medical agencies, research teams or nonprofit groups that would do all they could to lower the country’s unusually high incidence of teenage pregnancies.
If the grant applications were shown to use evidence-based reasoning to explain how they would cut this rate by a significant margin in their area, they were given a grant ranging from $400,000 to $4 million per year.
Seeing as the program has been widely recognized to have helped drop the rate from around 34 per 1,000 teenage girls in 2010 (aged 15-19) to as low as 22 per 1,000 teenage girls in 2015, this was health science and policy at its best.
Now, the Trump administration has completely defunded this program. Health Secretary Tom Price has also reportedly told people that the administration contains “outspoken opponents of federal funding for birth control, advocating abstinence rather than contraceptives to control teen pregnancies.”
The reason for this cut is two-fold: firstly, as aforementioned, President Obama, archenemy of the current president, started the program; secondly, social conservatives are aghast at the idea of birth control being easier to access.
Around 1 million teenagers relied on this program, either directly or indirectly, and now – because of pettiness and ideological reasons – they will lose access to it. It’s likely that the administration will now turn to abstinence-only programs, which are never effective.
[H/T: The Hill]