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Former Abstinence Advocate Now Controls Family Planning Funding

by Countable | Updated on 3.8.18

What’s the story?

For the first time, a single individual will be responsible for the final decision on what groups will receive Title X family planning funding. That person, reports Politico, is Valerie Huber, the acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at HHS, a long time advocate of abstinence education.

There was no official announcement of the change. A careful review of this year’s funding application compared to prior years, however, revealed it. Instead of final funding decisions being made between the official holding Huber’s position, a regional health official, and the assistant secretary for health, the final decision on the awarding of hundreds of millions in federal dollars will fall to Huber alone.

Officials at HHS, in response to queries, maintain the change is part of efforts to "streamline administrative functions" that have been underway since 2013.

Women’s health advocates fear, though, that the change, combined with other Title X policy changes emphasizing abstinence-only education and downplaying all FDA-approved methods of contraception, will endanger women’s access to reproductive and general health care.

Kashif Syed, a senior analyst at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, stated to Politico. "We’re talking about a program that 4 million people rely on for basic reproductive health care — or in many cases, their only form of health care. Now is not the time to play politics with people’s lives — but that’s exactly what the Trump-Pence administration is doing."

Huber, former CEO of Ascend, a national group advocating abstinence, and former manager of Ohio’s "sexual risk avoidance program" from 2004 to 2007, maintains that organizations like Planned Parenthood are welcome to apply for funding, but that she is hoping to expand the reach of the program:

"This is a program that’s important to the administration, and we think it’s really important to make some meaningful changes to extend the coverage of the program."

Title X funding applications are due in May. As in prior years, they will be reviewed by an independent panel of public health experts, then forwarded to Huber for final selection.

What do you think?

Are you concerned about this change in the Title X funding process, or not? Do you think abstinence-only education should be the center of federally funded family planning programs, one of a list of options, or not included at all? If Huber making the decisions reduces funding to providers like Planned Parenthood that offer women the full range of contraceptive options, is that a problem for you?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Sarah C via Flickr / Creative Commons)

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Written by Countable

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(90)
  • OlderNWiser
    03/08/2018
    ···

    At least #45 is consistent. His appointees must be hostile to the mission for which appointed. If they lack critical thinking skills and intelligence so much the better. If they are needlessly mean, interested in causing harm to people over whom they have power, that’s his kind of guy. News flash: women are people capable of making our own decisions without having some no-nothing man control us.

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  • PainHz
    03/08/2018
    ···

    According to the HHS's own website, teen pregnancy rates are down by 40+ percent since moving to pregnancy prevention education vs abstinence. Hey, Republicans. YOU CANT TAKE AWAY CONDOMS AND SEX EDUCATION AND EXPECT ABORTION RATES TO GO DOWN. Idiots.

    Like (54)
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  • RadicalModerate
    03/08/2018
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    I advocate having sex. It feels better than pretending guns are cool.

    Like (45)
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  • Aran
    03/07/2018
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    Abstinence-based sex education has been proven not to work. Keep HHS deputy secretary Huber from imposing her agenda on much-needed funding that supports families making difficult decisions.

    Like (39)
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  • OlderNWiser
    03/08/2018
    ···

    Who imposes ostensible religious beliefs on whole population? A dictator. Who believes they have the right to destroy the lives of the population? A dictator. Who practices violence against the population while pretending to be superior? A dictator. Who brags about sexual assault of women, is embroiled in countless extramarital affair’s, insists on controlling laws that he breaks daily,? #45, the dictator wannabe. Abstinence only states have huge unintended pregnancy rates. Who installs one inappropriate, Ignorant, extremist to control Title X? Why are we allowing our country And its people to be destroyed by #45 and his administration? Get them out!

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  • Luke
    03/07/2018
    ···

    Having a single individual in charge of a decision like this is not what our country was founded on in terms of decision making. Look at the other decision made against the will of the majority (FCC neutrality vote) and tell me that this is how our democracy should work.

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  • Joanne
    03/07/2018
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    Everyday I wake up hoping for a good day. This is horrific. trump and this administration has total disregard for woman, their right to choose and their health. Abstinence education, hasn’t worked before and won’t now. Planned Parenthood works towards reducing the number of abortions by providing sex education, birth control and family planning.

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  • Claudia
    03/08/2018
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    Abstinence only has not worked in the past, why would it work now? Does abstinence apply to married couples as well? Please keep planned parenthood funded. This is the only healthcare available for some.

    Like (23)
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  • Chickie
    03/08/2018
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    This brought to mind an old joke: What do you call girls who practice abstinence as birth control? The answer? Teenage Mothers. In the six months since her appointment, (her first ever government job), Valerie Huber has cut over $200 million to important sex and health educational programs. Now she alone will decide which organizations will receive taxpayer dollars from the HHS. Having your own religious beliefs on family planning and sex education CANNOT influence a government job. I find Huber’s position and outspoken beliefs extremely ironic. Her boss (aka #45), was sued by a porn star with whom he (allegedly), had an affair. During the time of alleged affair, #45’s third wife was pregnant and then a new mom. Unsurprisingly, #45 has also (allegedly), frolicked with Russian prostitutes. I wonder if any of Huber’s programs would grant #45 to receive a shot of penicillin when needed?

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  • Christine
    03/07/2018
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    Having one person controlling family planning funding is unwise. Having that person be an abstinence advocating woman is unconscionable. Keep your filthy paws off of women’s reproductive rights and the associated education programs!

    Like (19)
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  • Jared
    03/07/2018
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    Why is the government trying to become so involved with what women do with their bodies. They should have the choice of whatever is out there. Abstinence is an outdated method and serves to help no one. It avoids the main issue which is that young people need to be educated about safe sex, not avoid sex like it’s some perverse act. It should definitely not be left for one person to decide, especially not this Huber woman.

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  • ConservativeGuy
    03/07/2018
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    Not concerned at all. Bloat is bad. Abortion should be minimized and people should be educated about all of their options. I am encouraging my kids to refrain from sexual relationships until they are emotionally prepared. If they do plan to engage, I will educate them about proper precautions. See how that works? A parent CAN influence their children.

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  • Kimberly
    03/07/2018
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    Abstinence-only (sex) education and family-planning policy is proven to not be successful. And a single person with an easily identifiable agenda is in control of funding for such services?! This is inexcusable.

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  • MsMegan
    03/08/2018
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    Abstinence-only doesn’t work. It has been proven time and time again. Access to contraception and information is key. Let’s not take another step backwards. And having a single person making these decisions is a horrible idea.

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  • John
    03/07/2018
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    Abstinence only is a delusion. Putting someone who believes in it in charge of Title X is criminal. Stop the war on women. Stop the war on sanity.

    Like (11)
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  • Michael
    03/07/2018
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    Family planning funding cannot be controlled by a person who believes in abstinence only education. Literally that is not a plan. Put a female OBGYN in the position. They will be much qualified to offer up a qualified opinion and will understand what women need.

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  • Guy
    03/07/2018
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    Abstinence only is the same as “just say no.” Neither work. Let’s get smarter and not repeat history again. Been there done that. Also what happens to all the women who use this as their primary access to healthcare?

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  • KenBudris
    03/08/2018
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    I don’t want my federal tax dollars going to abstinence-only education programs.

    Like (8)
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  • Leslie
    03/08/2018
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    The only abstinence I would have supported is the night 45 was conceived. People are sexual beings. They need information not silence when it comes to understanding their sexual drives, impulses and their responsibilities. “Just say no!” policies fail. Teaching how one’s body works prevents unwanted pregnancies. Here in Texas where sex education is supposed to take place only in the home or church, and is thwarted in schools, we have one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies. Stupid.

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  • Kari
    03/07/2018
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    You have got to be kidding me. This is important funding. It give correct education to kids that have parents that don't talk about sex or give them the just say no. Guess what it doesn't work. With proper education and availability to reproductive health less abortions less unwanted pregnancy and kids. Sadly this administration is taking us back 50 years when women were going to back allies to get abortions and many dying in the process.

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