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With Sec. Price Gone, Trump Administration Faces Challenge to its Pro-Family HHS Agenda

Tom Price resigned last week after the release of a series of Politico articles accusing Health and Human Services Secretary of abusing tax pay dollars by chartering private planes for work-related travel.

Before being nominated and confirmed to run DHS, Price had developed a record of being a strong pro-life advocate and historical support for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. His departure may leave conservative-leaning, pro-family groups wondering about the fate of the department’s agenda moving forward.

Although his tenure was short, in the first few months of his term, Secretary Price cut 213.6 million in funding to 81 organizations that use contraception-based sex education curricula. Price opposes federal funding for birth control and advocates abstinence education as a more effective method of curbing teen pregnancies.

Price’s announcement to cut the funding came in early July and immediately sparked the ire of much of the mainstream media.

The progressive groups leading the sex education programs in question claim the funding, allocated by Obama to run through 2019, will allow researchers to conduct a thorough analysis of the effectiveness of certain programs with specific demographic groups. While it’s important to recognize that more than a quarter of U.S. girls become pregnant by 20, a much higher percentage than other developed nations, there is strong evidence that similar programs in schools do not work.

A Cochrane review released in 2016 concluded, “there is little evidence that educational, curriculum-based programs alone are effective in improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes for adolescents.” Cochrane is a global independent network of researchers that provides results and analysis to help people and organizations make better healthcare decisions. The study they conducted involved eight school-based programs distributed globally. A total of 55,157 participants were included in the study.

At the time, Huber, then with Ascend, was quoted on American Family News saying, “We’ve known for a long time what the best health message (abstinence) is for young people, and we’re getting more and more details that they’re resonating with that and that the opposite message (safe sex) is having the opposite effect.”

Price’s pro-family stances on issues like abortion, as well as his willingness to act swiftly on cutting contraception-based sex education he judged ineffective, makes his vacancy important to those concerned about family issues. The NY Times reports there are several candidates under consideration to replace him. These include Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.

Seema Verma had formerly worked with Vice President Mike Pence in creating an alternative Medicaid expansion for Indiana called “Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0.” It was the nation’s first consumer-directed Medicaid program. The program includes minimal contributions on the part of recipients to emphasize personal responsibility. Scott Gottlieb is a physician and former Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who had previously worked under the second Bush Administration.

As for the issue of sexual education locally, keep your eye on Spokane Public Schools, who will be considering a sexual education curriculum developed by Planned Parenthood. The curriculum is called “Get Real” and would be implemented for 6th through 9th grades. Read more about the Spokane/Planned Parenthood sexual education proposal here:

Genevieve Malandra is a guest contributor to the FPIW Blog.


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