Since President Trump appears intent upon rolling back every Obama policy possible, he’s back with a new installment. This particular roll back feels like a natural progression to please his conservative base, but there’s been no flashy executive order to push the agenda through. Rather, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program has been quietly relieved of $213.6 million in funding.
This news arrives courtesy of Reveal, which dug up associated grant letters via The Center for Investigative Reporting. The relevant language shortens the current grant period, which was scheduled to conclude in June 2020 but shall now end in June 2018. This shouldn’t be too surprising, considering how Trump has already rolled back the birth control mandate on Obamacare by fast-tracking an interim final rule (while the Senate GOP works to hammer out their healthcare act). However, the shady mechanism by which these funding cuts are happening — independent of the standard federal budget process — will only make the effects more devastating for their unilateral nature:
“We are just reeling. We’re not sure how we’ll adapt,” said Jennifer Hettema, an associate research professor at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, which was finding ways to help doctors talk to Native American and Latino teens about avoiding pregnancy.
More than a quarter of U.S. girls become pregnant by 20. The teen birth rate has continually declined over the past 20 years, but it remains high compared with other industrialized nations, particularly among poor and minority girls.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has made no secret of his intent to slice contraceptive protections from federal programs, and while in Congress, he opposed Obamacare’s birth control mandate. His department issued a weak statement to Reveal that claims the programs have enough time to secure funding (for both research and training resources) elsewhere. Part of the cuts (up to $2.9 million) will also drastically affect a grant that goes to Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, which will lose that money immediately. Altogether, the funding will affect five major programs that serve 80 separate institutions.
On a not-unrelated note, the New York Times published an editorial today about the Trump administration’s harsh stance on reproductive rights. The piece contains quite a kicker: “Mr. Trump doesn’t care about women’s health or rights, and it’s easy to outsource policy to the activists of the religious right who helped elect him. When you’re the president, they let you do it.”