Max Baucus (D-MT) and the members of the Senate Finance Committee shared a moment of collective surprise one late night last week. No, it was not Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” to Blanche Lincoln. The Senate Finance Committee decided to fund two opposing amendments both meant to reduce teenage pregnancy.
Grassley proposed an amendment that would renew Bush-era policies funding abstinence only education. In true Baucus fashion, instead of caucusing his Democratic members, wielding his power as chair to his advantage, or letting staff present statistics on the failure of abstinence only education in America, Baucus presented the committee with his own amendment to reduce teen pregnancy. This amendment would give states the ability to decide between programs as long as they were able to prove that the program worked. Abstinence only education could be that program, if evidence is found.
Text of the two amendments appear below:
Abstinence Education. The Chairman‘s Mark would appropriate $50 million a year through FY
2014 for abstinence education. The Mark would also appropriate $75 million each year for fiscal
years FY2010 through FY2014 for a Personal Responsibility Education for Adulthood Training.
Teen Pregnancy Prevention. Of the annual amount, $50 million would be available to states
each year on a formula basis for programs to educate adolescents on both abstinence and
contraception for prevention of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including
HIV/AIDS. Programs must be evidence-based, medically accurate, and age appropriate and
must address at least three adulthood preparation subjects. Subjects include: healthy
relationships, adolescent development, financial literacy; parent-child communication,
educational and career success, and healthy life skills.