Planned Parenthood of Greater Northwest and Hawaii, along with eight other groups, is suing the Trump administration for disregarding the law regarding grants. The agencies charge that the Department of Health and Human Services broke the law by canceling their five-year grants with no explanation.
Among the programs cut was LiFT (Linking Families and Teens) that was sponsored by Planned Parenthood as part of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.
Trump’s budget proposal instead allocates $75 million to abstinence education, though it’s proven far less effective. Julie Liles, a young mother who was 14 when she had her daughter, says the LiFT meetings helped her connect with her daughter on a new level. She said:
“It was almost instantly that I felt that I could talk to my daughter in a different way, without automatically jumping to assumptions or, you know, just cutting her off and being angry or being embarrassed.”
An HHS spokeswoman said that the programs are being shut down because they are not effective and serve a small percentage of the population. What the administration left out is that that population is often made up primarily of people of color. African-American, Hispanic, and low-income or rurally located teens have higher pregnancy rates, and these programs have been shown to be effective in curbing that.
Defunding the grants not only halts progress on this front, but it tears down progress that has already been made. Pat Paluzzi, CEO of the Healthy Teen Network, the group in charge of creating an app to teach teens about healthy sexuality, calls it “a huge waste of taxpayers’ money.”
The grants were supposed to be funded through 2020 until the Trump administration abruptly brought them to a halt. Though they will fight it, health educators and the teens they serve are hurting because of it.
Image provided via Wikimedia Commons