Without so much as an announcement, funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs and research was cut by the Trump administration. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) cut two years off of five-year grants given to organizations nationwide by the Obama administration to find ways to help young people avoid unintended pregnancies, reports Reveal, part of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting.
A total of 81 programs were notified by the Office of Adolescent Health that the five-year grants they received in 2015 would actually only last three years. Organizations that had their funding cut include the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Texas, and Chicago's Department of Public Health, according to Reveal.
The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program grants were awarded by the Obama administration to support "the implementation of evidence-based programs and the development and evaluation of new and innovative approaches to prevent teen pregnancy," the program's website says. It currently funds 84 programs, 81 of which had their grants shortened.
“All of these grantees were given a project end date of June 30, 2018, allowing the grantees an opportunity to adjust their program and plan for an orderly close out,” an HHS Department spokesman told Reveal. (HHS has not yet responded to Refinery29's request for comment.)
The cuts to teen pregnancy prevention programs come from a department currently led by many who don’t believe in access to contraception. Health Secretary Tom Price doesn’t believe birth control should be free or that insures should be required to cover it, and he previously supported defunding Planned Parenthood. Teresa Manning, the deputy assistant secretary of the Office of Population Affairs, doesn’t think the government should be involved in family planning and isn’t convinced birth control works. (It does when used correctly.)
The birthrate nationwide fell by 8% from 2014 to 2015 for women between the ages of 15 and 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC said the reasons for the decline “are not totally clear,” but that evidence suggests access to birth control played a part.
However, America’s teen pregnancy rate is still higher than any other western developed country, according to the CDC, and it’s a problem that disproportionately affects teens of color.
From 2010 to 2014, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program's 102 grantees reached about half a million youth and funded 41 independent studies. Starting in 2018, many of those grantees will see their federal grant funding end.