Trump Kills an Ineffective Obama-Era Program

posted by Jay Weber - 

via The Weekly Standard by Charlotte Allen

The Trump administration has recommended defunding a $100 million-plus a-year Obama-era grant program designed to reduce teen pregnancy, to the screams of the liberal media. The program, created by Congress in 2010 during that brief and shining moment right after Barack Obama’s election when Democrats controlled both houses, was supposed to be “evidence-based”—that is to say, grounded in contraceptives promotion instead of postponing sex as had been the case with earlier federal teen pregnancy efforts. Indeed, the very word “abstinence”—derided as ineffective—was and still is a dirty word among the advocates of so-called “comprehensive” sex education that would supposedly put a damper on childbearing by unmarried adolescents.

But the Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway reported last week, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program (abbreviated, confusingly, to TPP and part of a 2010 appropriations act), which hands out grants to public and private entities to provide “medically accurate and age appropriate” pregnancy-reduction programs for adolescents, hasn’t produced much in the way of results. “Evidence-based” meant that each of the programs was supposed to rigorously analyzed (including replications with different teen populations) for effectiveness, and a report duly issued. That report, covering about 40 percent of the programs financed by the nearly half a billion dollars that had been poured into TPP grants from FY 2010 through FY 2014, emerged from the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Adolescent Health in 2016. As Hemingway wrote:

In some cases, the grant programs for reducing pregnancy actually showed increases in reported pregnancy and the likelihood of becoming pregnant. Even for some programs that showed short-term positive results, the improvements usually disappeared within a few months…. Only four of the more than 75 replications were found effective, and even then they were not found effective over time. Only eight of the 27 programs trying new approaches had even mildly positive results. Many of the programs weren’t even evaluated, with only 41 of the 102 grantees reporting results on effectiveness.

The grants, ranging in size from $500,000 to $10 million, went to states, cities, university health departments, school districts, and after-school programs run by such entities as Volunteers of America and Planned Parenthood, produced such results (summarized by Hemingway) as:

Latino teens offered the program after school had similar rates of sexual debut, contraceptive use at last sex encounter, and contraceptive use in the past three months relative to youth offered a fitness and nutrition program both immediately after and six months after the program ended.


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