Funding for Abstinence-Only-until-Marriage Education and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Outcomes across the States

Ashley Fox, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Georgia Himmelstein, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Federal funding for abstinence-only sex education has been around since the 1980s, but it increased in the 2000s with the introduction of a new funding stream that gave grants directly to community-based organizations, bypassing state approval. This study examined changes in teen pregnancy/birth rates and funding for abstinence-only education over time across states. Using data on federal abstinence-only funding to the states, teen pregnancy, abortion and births, we used generalized estimating equations (GEE) to examine the relationship between increases in federal per-pupil abstinence-only education and teen pregnancy/abortion/birth-rates, adjusting for state demographics and examining the interaction with state sexuality content laws. We found that each dollar of federal spending per-pupil was associated with a .01/1000 increase in the pregnancy rate (p<0.01), a finding which remained robust after accounting for state demographic characteristics. Federal funding for abstinence-only sex education was not associated with teen birth or abortion-rates after accounting for state demographics.

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Presented in Session 98: Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health: Policy and Intervention