Late-Night Committee Votes Yield Success for Sex Ed Programs within Health Care Reform

Last night, as part of the broader process of health care reform in the House of Representatives, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by California Congressman Henry Waxman, met to continue debate and consideration of amendments to the Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, a copy of the House version of and amendments to which can be found here (including votes on each amendment).

Two important amendments to the bill were introduced in Committee.  One of these, submitted by Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry, would have extended Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage progams through 2012.  The Title V abstinence-only program, which provided funding for now-widely discredited programs, expired this year.  Terry’s attempt to extend it failed by a 3-vote margin, 29 to 26, mostly along party lines.  Three Democrats, Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak, Louisiana Congressman Charlie Melancon, and Georgia Congressman John Barrow voted in favor of extending Title V.

Congresswoman Lois Capps introduced an amendment intended to create a Healthy Teen Initiative, expanding on the narrower teen pregnancy prevention initiative originally proposed in President Obama’s budget.  This amendment, which passed 33 to 23 on a recorded vote, alloacates $50 million dollars in funding for a new program through which states can fund
evidence-based interventions to reduce teen pregnancy, reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections, and comprehensively address a range of teen sexuality issues, and build life-long skills to promote good sexual and reproductive health throughout a person’s life-cycle. 

A large coalition of public health and human rights advocacy groups have been working for the past 3 months to expand on the President’s proposal and they have focused their efforts on both appropriations bills and health reform proposals to establish the policy framework and lock in more funding for comprehensive programs.  Last night’s votes were hailed by many. "This is a major step forward and will get the states the money they need to improve adolescent sexual health outcomes across the board," says Bill Smith, Vice President for Public Policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), one of the coalition’s leading groups. "And now this program is solidly part of the healthcare reform package making its way
through the House."

James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth and another leader of the coalition, stated: "This was a vote to bring science back into government.  By promoting evidence-based teen pregnancy and STI prevention
programs, the Committee, under the leadership of Representative Waxman,
has taken an important step toward ensuring young people get the
critical sexual health information they need to make responsible
decisions about their lives."


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  • crowepps

    By promoting evidence-based teen pregnancy and STI prevention programs

    Does it seem kind of weird to anyone else besides myself that there was ever a time when it was thought appropriate to promote teen pregnancy and STI prevention programs that were NOT evidence based?

  • invalid-0

    Don’t forget too soon.

  • invalid-0

    that is great to hear. i so dont want to teach my daughter about it since i am a only parent

  • invalid-0

    Wow, that is really sad. Sex education in schools is not meant to be the only source of sex ed. for your children. The main resource a child has for learning about sex and how to make healthy decisions is their own parents. However, this is great news for all the kids in school who have parents who are too immature(?) or just don’t care enough about their child’s health to talk about sex with them.

    • invalid-0

      As a professional Health Educator working with youth ages 9-18 years on life skills and preg. prevention I can say that it’s not only the job of the parent to instill values and skills in the child. EVERY adult needs to be giving these youth the same consistent messaging about how to have a healthy life, how to think of their futures in positive terms, how to avoid peer pressure, etc. With the power of the media, music and such it’s almost impossible for a parent to get the messages into their children’s minds. So, that’s wheree we all AS A UNIFIED SOCIETY can work together for the overall health and security of our society.

      Yes, it’s terribly sad that alot of parents don’t have the skills themselves. It’s sad when a teen gets pregnant and has no idea how to even relate to her own body much less the new life she is bringing in. It’s sad when a single parent is working 2 jobs to make ends meet and has no time to really be the parent to their own children. It’s sad when addictions supplant a normal parental response.

      Ok, there’s lot of sadness to go around. Instead of wasting energy on pointing fingers and making someone the scape goat it really behooves all of us to focus on THE CHILD IN NEED!

      That child can be supported and thus become productive. OR that child can be ignored and thus….who knows, jail, prison, dead on the street??????

      Lastly, the money the government is putting into child development and pregnancy prevention is miniscule. And those of us working in this field basically work for peanuts, mostly because we understand the bigger implications here.

  • invalid-0

    to teach teens about sex because their parents aren’t up for the job. I guess the mommies are in a bit of a bind, having employed a desperately weak tether to the fathers of their children, and now again, desperate, search for a little self-esteem reassurance. Oh, well, let the taxpayer try to mop up for the hapless female and her regrettable choices of sex partners and compensate for her lack of any purposeful goal. She doesn’t have the time or ability to raise a child–hey, there’s a fine prospect walking by right now pushing a shopping cart! In fact, she has decided that maybe SHE should see if she should get into the teen sex education class. She says, “Thank God for Barack Obama.”

  • invalid-0

    Oh, well, let the taxpayer try to mop up for the hapless female and her regrettable choices of sex partners and compensate for her lack of any purposeful goal. She doesn’t have the time or ability to raise a child–hey, there’s a fine prospect walking by right now pushing a shopping cart!

    Who are you talking about? Yourself?

  • invalid-0

    Why do teens get pregnant in the first place? It is that hard to get some condoms, there only like five bucks. Im against teen pregnancy because most teen are not ready to take care of a baby, plus i thinkg someone should be married befor they have a baby, its the right enviorment to bring a baby into.