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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Teen Pregnancy Prevention: Background andProposals in the 111th Congress

Carmen Solomon-Fears
Specialist in Social Policy

The birth rate for teenagers in the United States increased in 2006 and 2007 after a steady decline since 1991. In 2007, teen births accounted for 10.5% of all U.S. births and 22.6% of all nonmarital births. The birth rate for U.S. teens remains higher than the teenage birth rate of most industrialized nations. In recognition of the negative, long-term consequences associated with teenage pregnancy and births, teen pregnancy prevention is a major goal of this nation. 

President Obama's FY2010 budget supports state, community-based, and faith-based efforts to reduce teen pregnancy using models that have been rigorously evaluated. The Administration's proposed discretionary pregnancy prevention initiative would fund models that stress the importance of abstinence while providing medically-accurate and age-appropriate information to youth who have already become sexually active. The Obama Administration's FY2010 budget would not provide any funding in FY2010 for the Title V Abstinence Education Block Grant to states (which was a mandatory program) or the Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) program (a discretionary program); nor would it continue to provide funding in FY2010 for abstinence-only demonstration grants through the Adolescent Family Life (AFL) program. 

P.L. 111-117, the Consolidated Appropriations for FY2010, includes a new discretionary teenage pregnancy prevention program, identical to the one proposed in the President's FY2010 budget, that would provide grants and contracts, on a competitive basis, to public and private entities to fund "medically accurate and age appropriate" programs that reduce teen pregnancy. Of the $110 million provided, $75 million would be for replicating programs that are proven effective through rigorous evaluation as reducing teenage pregnancy, behavioral factors underlying teen pregnancy, and related risk factors; while $25 million would be for research and demonstration grants. P.L. 111-117 also provides a separate $4.5 million (within the Public Health Service Act program evaluation funding) to carry out evaluations of teenage pregnancy prevention approaches. 

This report provides a brief discussion of the debate on comprehensive sex education and abstinence education, highlights evaluations of both types of programs, describes youth programs that address teen pregnancy, and examines the new teen pregnancy prevention initiative included in the Obama Administration's FY2010 and FY2011 budgets. It also identifies teen pregnancy prevention legislation pending before the 111th Congress (H.R. 463/S. 21, H.R. 1551/S. 611, H.R. 3288, H.R. 3293, H.R. 3312, H.R. 3590, and H.R. 3962). This report will be updated to reflect legislative activity that seeks to reduce or prevent pregnancy among teenagers. 

Date of Report: February 4, 2010
Number of Pages: 18
Order Number: R40618
Price: $29.95

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