The Trump administration in recent weeks has awarded millions in grants to state governments and organizations to fund abstinence-only sex education. More than $3 million in federal funds has gone to organizations that distribute inaccurate and misleading information about sexual health.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $8.9 million in grants to 21 organizations and agencies through the Competitive Abstinence Education (CAE) program. HHS has awarded an additional $2.1 million in grants and sub-grants to 34 organizations and agencies through the abstinence education program created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The grants for abstinence-only sex education programs come in the wake of the Trump administration’s decision to eliminate $213.6 million in grants for teen pregnancy prevention programs and research.
A review of the abstinence education grants by Rewire found that at least $3.1 million has been awarded to religiously affiliated organizations and crisis pregnancy centers, or fake clinics that use anti-choice propaganda to dissuade people from seeking abortion care.
ThriVe was awarded a $433,021 grant to provide abstinence-only education to youth in the St. Louis area. The organization operates three fake clinics in the St. Louis area, and has regularly organized protests of Planned Parenthood. ThriVe’s Best Choice abstinence-only program has faced criticism from parents, and several school districts in the St. Louis area have discontinued or suspended the program to review the curriculum.
Pamela Merritt, executive director of Reproaction, told Rewire in an email that the Trump administration’s grant to ThriVe is “outrageous.”
“Missouri is already one of seven states rerouting millions in federal TANF dollars intended to alleviate hunger to these fake clinics,” Merritt said. “The state’s best interests are not well served by Trump sending even more hard-earned tax dollars to a controversial anti-abortion fake clinic that systematically misleads and shames women seeking abortion care.”
Elizabeth’s New Life Center, an Ohio-based self-described Christ-centered ministry organization with several locations throughout the state, was awarded a $442,019 grant. Gov. John Kasich (R) in July approved a budget that included $1 million in funding for fake clinics in the state.
“Abstinence-only programs and crisis pregnancy centers commit a sin of omission when they deny real facts to students and families. Taxpayers do not want their money to go to anti-abortion groups that lie to women and girls,” NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Executive Director Kellie Copeland said in a statement. “These funds are desperately needed in our communities, but they have to get to real health care organizations and groups that provide comprehensive sex education classes. Abstinence-only programs are not effective at delaying the initiation of sexual activity or in reducing teen pregnancy. They’re a harmful waste of taxpayer dollars. Period.”
Other religiously affiliated or anti-choice organizations awarded CAE grants were Bethany Christian Services, which received $441,577; Ambassadors for Christ Youth Ministries, awarded $442,019; and Trinity Church, which received a $442,019 grant.
Three religiously affiliated organizations were awarded sub-grants as part of the ACA’s abstinence education grant to the New Jersey Department of Health. Mount Olives Church of God was awarded $263,236; Free Teens USA was awarded $306,164; and Lifeguard Inc received $343,144.