Obama axes funding for 'abstinence-only' sex education

Barack Obama has cut all funding for sex education programmes which teach it is best to wait until marriage.

President Barack Obama is strongly opposed to abstinence-based sex education and points to evidence suggesting it increases teen pregnancy.Reuters

In a move that will enrage many Republican Christians, abstinence-based sex education programmes will lose their $10 million-a-year grant under the US President's 2017 budget proposal.

The final budget of Obama's administration will also increase funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and maintain it for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Adolescent and School Health.

Currently the US Department of Health and Human Services offers grants to states and territories teaching abstinence-based programmes. However Obama's budget would eliminate this completely and therefore remove any incentive to teach such programmes.

Congress has until the new fiscal year begines on October 1 to debate the 2017 budget.

Interim President and CEO of the the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the US (SIECUS), Jesseca Boyer issued a statement praising Obama's decision, which she believes will reduce teen pregnancy. "SIECUS is grateful for President Obama's leadership in seeking to end abstinence-only-until-marriage funding once and for all," she said.

"After three decades and nearly $2 billion in federal spending wasted on this failed approach, the President's proposed budget increases support for programmes and efforts that seek to equip young people with the skills they need to ensure their lifelong sexual health and well-being."

However advocates of abstinence-only sex education doubt the funding cut will actually pass as the Republicans, who generally support the programmes, control the US Congress.

"I'm very optimistic," says Valerie Huber, president of the National Abstinence Education Association.

"Every year the President sends his budget over to Congress he proposes the elimination of sexual risk avoidance programmes. For six months in the last two terms he was successful and the rest of the time Congress chose to ignore that request."

She added it was an "anomaly" Obama was so opposed.

"For some reason he is so hostile to abstinence education that he is willing to ignore the parents on both sides of the aisle and the good decisions made by an increasing number of teens," she said.

"It's curious and disheartening."