Funding Slashed for Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Without warning, the Trump administration has yanked funding for four teen pregnancy prevention programs serving American Indian youth.

On July 1, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told the 80-plus Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program grantees that their funding would end two years early, in June 2018 instead of June 2020, as scheduled.

Teen birth rates in the U.S. have been declining for more than two decades, and were down 67 percent in 2016 from a high of 61.8 births per 1,000 females in 1991. The birth rate for AI/AN teens was 26 births per 1,000 in 2014, a 17 percent decline from 2013 and a 69 percent decline since 1991, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

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The decline in the teen birth rate is not due to teens having more abortions. Instead, they are having less sex, using more effective contraception more often when they do have sex, and have more information on how to prevent pregnancy, reports the Pew Research Center. “It’s a mistake to think that sex education has to make abstinence and the use of contraception mutually exclusive,” said Jennifer Hettema, project director of a TPP-funded initiative serving 13- to 19-year-old Native Americans and Hispanics run by the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center.

TPP funds implementation of evidence-based programs and the development, evaluation and dissemination of new approaches to preventing teen pregnancy.

The University of New Mexico program is investigating whether a brief patient-centered interview, conducted in a medical setting, that asks a teen who is already having unprotected sex to think about the impact an unintended pregnancy would have on his or her life goals and values and then offers, to those who are interested, information about how to prevent pregnancy. The hypothesis is that the…

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