Abstinence Policy Challenged

(CN) — Planned Parenthood affiliates sued the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Friday over its efforts to impose an abstinence-only focus on its Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program that has served more than 1 million young people.

The lawsuits were filed in federal courts in New York City and Spokane, Washington, by four different Planned Parenthood affiliates covering New York City and the states of Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska and Washington.

Planned Parenthood says the lawsuits are intended to protect the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program from what they termed ineffective abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculums.

The program has served about 1.2 million teens in 39 states since it started in 2010. The Trump administration in April announced it would remake the program to push abstinence-only counseling.

Last year, the agency informed recipients of 81 teen pregnancy prevention grants that it would terminate their grant agreements two years early. But in April, a federal judge in Spokane blocked the Trump administration from cutting the grants. Judges in Seattle, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., have made similar rulings.

Congress created the $110 million program in 2010 to support and develop evidence-based ways to reduce teen pregnancy. In 2015, HHS awarded the 81 grants that were to last five years.

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