Friday, February 27, 2009

Thank You, President Obama!

The broad outlines for the President's 2010 budget have now been released, and it looks really promising for those of us who support reproductive health and justice and the needs of women, children, and underserved populations. It specifically includes increases in revenues to detect, prevent, and treat HIV domestically, adds support to a visiting nurses program to first time low income mothers and mothers to be, and increases the child care block grant. And here's what it says about teenage pregnancy:

Prevents Teen Pregnancy. The Budget supports
State, community-based, and faith-based
efforts to reduce teen pregnancy using evidence based
models. The program will fund models that
stress the importance of abstinence while providing
medically-accurate and age-appropriate
information to youth who have already become
sexually active.

Could this be the death knoll for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that are neither evidence-based (the evidence is that they don't work) and that acknowledge and provide information and services for young people to prevent pregnancies and disease? Will the budget finally end funding for ineffective, wasteful, and harmful (no less immoral) programs?

President Obama also today took the first step toward eliminating "the HHS “refusal rule” imposed by the Bush Administration that would have limited women’s access to birth control. The rule would have allowed health care professionals to refuse, on religious or moral grounds, to provide women with the family planning services they need -- or even to refer to providers who would offer these services. Further as I understand it federally funded clinics would have been prohibited from asking future employees their willingness to offer these services: in other words, a hospital might hire a pharmacist who wouldn't dispense EC to rape victims or a Title X doctor who wouldn't give teenagers contraception.

From a press release from Advocates for Youth:

According to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the Department of Health and Human Services has sent a proposed rule change “Rescission of the Regulation Issued by the Department of Health and Human Services on December 19, 2008, Implementing the Church Amendments (42 U.S.C. 300a-7), Section 245 of the Public Health Service” for review to OMB.

Once a notice of the rule change is published in the Federal Register, the public will have a chance to submit comments.

This regulation was signed into law in the last days of the Bush administration, despite nearly 200,000 people wrote comments opposing them.

As a religious leader, I applaud the President's decision. I can appreciate that some physicians, nurses, pharmacists and so on do not want to participate in delivering sexual health services -- I just don't think they should work for federally funded programs that have as their mandate to deliver them. Blessings for one more step forward from the dark anti-reproductive health policies of the last Administration.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

no evidence of "abstinence only"? how would you "collect it"? if the participants abstained until marriage - it works 100% of the time! THAT's your evidence - no unwanted pregnancies and no STD's. just DON'T do it! as for programs to educate young people - yay Obama - bring them on and let's get the word out! (including abstinence!)