House bill guts abstinence education, pro-life provision

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives voted Aug. 1 to reauthorize the federal health program for children. But tucked into H.R. 3162 are two anti-family provisions—one that could lead to more state-funded abortions and one that undermines abstinence education by expanding comprehensive sex education.

Critics insist the second provision essentially hands abstinence funding over to Planned Parenthood.

In 2002, the Bush administration issued a regulation that defined a "child" as being from conception to 18 years of age, a regulation that is known as the "unborn child rule." This regulation allowed states the option of covering the health care of the unborn child and has the benefit of covering the pregnant woman's health care as well.

"The new House bill changes the program to cover health insurance for a 'pregnant woman,' rather than cover the child in the womb," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "This would undermine the 'unborn child rule' and could possibly allow funding for abortions in those states that include abortion as part of their Medicaid health coverage for women."

Citing the exclusion of "coverage for certain unborn children and their mothers" and numerous other issues, the president indicated today he would veto the bill if it made it to his desk in its current form.

David Christensen, director of congressional affairs at FRC, said: "The federal dollars wouldn't necessarily be used to do the abortion, but it's freeing up states to perform these other services, including abortion, with their own state money."

"To add insult to injury," Perkins said, "the bill contains a provision to gut the Title V abstinence-only education program."

For a decade, Title V has provided $50 million annually for abstinence education. The funding is set to expire in September. H.R. 3162 will renew the funding for two years—but will allow those precious abstinence funds to be used for comprehensive sex education.

"They're simply giving states more money to fund Planned Parenthood and the programs that teach our children to have sex," said Linda Klepacki, sexual health analyst for Focus on the Family Action. "Comprehensive sex education will once again have a monopoly on your school systems."

Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst for Focus Action, called it a "greedy political maneuver."

"Comprehensive sex education gets funded over abstinence by a 10-to-1 margin," she said. "Allowing abstinence money to be used for comprehensive sex ed is like having a banquet in front of you, but then stealing food from your neighbor."