There’s a front-page USA Today story today about the Bush administration supposedly making twentysomethings not having sex a priority. It was brought to my attention by readers who were wondering if Prudish K-Lo had taken a job with the Department of Heath and Human Services, this being my first action.
My understanding of what happened — via Wade Horn, who actually does work for HHS (assistant secretary for children and families) — is that there’s no there there, at least nothing to put it in the news now. According to Horn “The statute governing this program has been exactly the same since 1996.” That statute was signed into law by Bill Clinton.
Horn explains to me that “The law requires that states use Title V abstinence ed money to focus on groups most likely to bear children out of wedlock. States can — and have — been focusing some of their money on young adults as well as teens, although they are not required to do so. The reason this became an issue is because the state of New Mexico wanted to restrict the use of these funds to sixth graders and to prohibit these funds from being used with junior high and high school students. Since it is difficult to argue that sixth graders are more likely to bear children out of wedlock than high school students, we included a clarification of the target age issue in our announcement of the FY 2007 availability of funds to states for this program — released, by the way, in August, not October.”
Since August, Horn says, “not a single state objected to this clarification.” But unless I’m missing something, they wouldn’t. HHS was, if I’ve got the story right, simply reminding states that they can use the money on twentysomethings too. As Horn puts it, “the clarification was permissive, not a requirement. That is, if a state doesn’t want to use any of its funds to target young adults as well as teens, they are free not to do so.”
We can argue about whether government should be involved in such things at all, but with a lot of wasteful programs out there, I can’t say this bothers me too much. If just short of one million unmarried women ages 19-29 had children in 2004, maybe a little abstinence education money going to some community centers or wherever isn’t the terrible idea some would have you believe it is.
But what do I know? I’m just a Christianist trying to create a theocracy.