During the Obama administration, teen pregnancy plummeted due in part to a rise of teen pregnancy prevention programs. One study, measuring teen pregnancy from 2007 to 2015, showed a drastic decline across all demographics:
Of course, that only means that President Trump is going to step in and destroy progress. The Department of Health and Human Services cut grants to 81 teen pregnancy programs, most of which will take place by June 30, 2018. The Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles lost their funding immediately.
The cold and harsh tone of the notice sent to Meagan Downey, the head of Vermont-based Youth Catalytics, a group that had been coordinating a project with the Children’s Hospital of L.A.:
“Due to changes in program priorities, it has been determined that it is in the best interest of the Federal government to no longer continue funding for the Providing Capacity Building Assistance to OAH Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grantees program.”
“There’s been no substantive change in the federal government’s ‘best interest,’” Downey told the Los Angeles Times. “The only thing that has changed is the appointment of some very extreme, misinformed appointees in HHS.”
Those appointees, Charmaine Yoest, Teresa Manning, and Valerie Huber, are all advocates for abstinence-only programs and pro-life causes. Yoest even promoted the false claim that abortions increase chances for breast cancer and “serious mental health problems.” Manning once said to NPR that, “Of course, contraception doesn’t work…Its efficacy is very low.” Again, this is not true. Hormonal contraceptives are 91% effective while IUDs are 99% effective.
And Huber relies on holistic and moralistic reasons for abstinence rather than empirical evidence. “As public health experts and policymakers, we must normalize sexual delay more than we normalize teen sex, even with contraception,” she told PBS last year. However, studies have proven that educating teens about contraceptives is more effective in preventing teen pregnancy than teaching them about abstinence only (see chart above).
“We’d been expecting that funding could be cut,” says Luanne Rohrbach of the Keck School of Medicine at USC. “But we didn’t think it would happen this way, and expected that there would be a discussion about it. We thought there would be an opportunity at least for the program to be deliberated.”
The problem the Trump Administration has with these programs is the same problem they had with many other social programs pushed by former President Obama—science. Obama wanted evidence-based approaches to social issues, but Trump wants to cater to Conservative Christians with every policy. What we’ll end up with is more teen pregnancies, and a bigger drain on the economy, especially since the Republicans are intent on ending Medicaid:
Trump and Republicans want to end the educational programs that reduce teen pregnancy (see the second line of the chart), and the program that saves taxpayers over $1 billion a year (sixth line). And many young mothers and their children will suffer as a result.