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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Teen Pregnancy Prevention: Background and Proposals in the 111th Congress

Carmen Solomon-Fears
Specialist in Social Policy

The birth rate for teenagers (ages 15 through 19) in the United States increased in 2006 and 2007 after a steady decline since 1991. In 2008, the teen birth rate dropped 2% below the 2007 teen birth rate, reversing the two-year trend. In 2008, teen births accounted for 10.2% of all U.S. births and 21.8% 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 and FY2011 budgets supported state, community-based, and faithbased efforts to reduce teen pregnancy using models that have been rigorously evaluated. The Administration’s new discretionary Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program funds 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 and FY2011 budgets did not provide any funding in FY2010 or FY2011 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 did they continue to provide funding in FY2010 or FY2011 for abstinence-only demonstration grants through the Adolescent Family Life (AFL) program.

Nonetheless, on March 23, 2010, President Obama signed into law a comprehensive health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA; P.L. 111-148). P.L. 111-148 includes the two teen pregnancy prevention provisions that were in the Senate version of the bill (H.R. 3590). P.L. 111-148 establishes a new state formula grant program and appropriates $75 million annually for each of FY2010-FY2014 to enable states to operate a new Personal Responsibility Education program ($375 million over five years). P.L. 111-148 also restores funding to the Title V Abstinence Education formula block grant to states at the previous annual level of $50 million for each of FY2010-FY2014 ($250 million over five years).

P.L. 111-117, the Consolidated Appropriations for FY2010 (enacted December 16, 2009), included a new discretionary Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program, identical to the one proposed in the President’s FY2010 budget, that provides 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 appropriated for the TPP program for FY2010, $75 million is for replicating programs that are proven effective through rigorous evaluation in reducing teenage pregnancy, behavioral factors underlying teen pregnancy, and related risk factors; while $25 million is for research and demonstration grants. P.L. 111-117 also provided 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 program established by P.L. 111-117 that was included in the Obama Administration’s FY2010 budget and again in his FY2011 budget. It also describes the teen pregnancy prevention initiatives included in PPACA. In addition, it identifies teen pregnancy prevention legislation introduced during the 111
th Congress (H.R. 463/S. 21, H.R. 1551/S. 611, H.R. 3288, H.R. 3293, H.R. 3312, H.R. 3590, H.R. 3962, H.R. 6283/S. 3878, and S. 1796).

Date of Report: December 20, 2010
Number of Pages: 20
Order Number: R40618
Price: $29.95

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