The Trump administration is mounting an effort to “support and improve” teen pregnancy prevention programs, which will include encouraging abstinence.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a $10 million research endeavor on Friday, in which HHS will partner with outside research firms Mathematica Policy Research and RTI International. The goal is to identify and test new ideas and models, HHS said in a statement.
The research will include studies on abstinence, as well as some assessment about why the rate of pregnancies among teens has dropped while the spread of some sexually transmitted diseases has increased, according to The Washington Examiner.
The HHS said the project is being funded from a “variety of sources,” including funds set aside for support and evaluation within the HHS Office of Adolescent Health.
Officials within the Trump administration have pushed for a program that teaches teen abstinence, rather than programs that teach teens about safe sex as encouraged under the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) created by the Obama administration.
The Trump administration notified 81 institutions across the U.S. that it would cut off funding for the TPPP grants in 2018, rather than in 2020, eliminating a $200 million expenditure over two years. According to The Hill, Mark Vafiades, a spokesman for HHS’s office of the assistant secretary for health, said that there was little evidence the programs had a positive impact, and therefore, were cut short.
According to HHS, the new project seeks “scientific and data-driven answers” to questions such as: “What economic impact does sexual delay have on the individual and on society as a whole?” and “Is it possible for youth who are currently engaged in risky behaviors to make healthier choices in the future?”