After policy changes made by the Trump administration, Valerie Huber, an abstinence-only sex education advocate, now controls the $286 billion federal family planning budget.
A senior Trump health official who has promoted abstinence will be the final arbiter of which groups receive federal family planning funds — a change from prior years, when a group of officials made the decision, POLITICO has learned.
Now, for the first time, the final decision of who gets the funding will be in the hands of one person — Valerie Huber, the acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at HHS, a longtime advocate of abstinence.
Prior to joining the Trump administration, Huber was president and CEO of Ascend, a national organization that promoted “sexual risk avoidance” — a term she used instead of abstinence — among young people.
Commenting on the disastrous new policy change, Kashif Syed, a senior analyst at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said:
This is unprecedented, and has dangerous implications. 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.
The Trump-Pence administration is handing the future of the country’s program for affordable birth control over to a woman who wants to mandate abstinence pledges.
Valerie Huber has called abstinence an anti-poverty program, and has made it clear she will impose her beliefs on people no matter how many get hurt in the process.
Care2 notes that earlier this month the Trump administration released new policy guidelines that favors abstinence and “natural family planning” over effective, science-based, birth control:
Under guidance released on Friday, March 2, the Department of Health and Human Services will preferentially fund programs that focus on abstinence and “natural family planning” – also known as the rhythm method — instead of birth control. And that’s bad news for millions of low-income people who count on Title X to help them determine the timing and spacing of their children.
The new policy changes giving Huber complete control of the $286 billion federal family planning budget only makes certain that the new guidelines mandating a preference for abstinence will be followed.
As public health experts and policy makers, we must normalize sexual delay more than we normalize teen sex, even with contraception.
And in a 2012 speech, Huber said:
We think it’s very important for teens to know that even if they use a condom or contraception, that doesn’t make sex safe. It doesn’t mean they won’t get pregnant. It doesn’t mean they won’t have an STD.
In reality, abstinence-only sex education programs are dangerous and harmful programs rooted in religious ignorance and prejudice. While supporters of abstinence-only sex education often claim such programs delay sexual initiation and reduces teen pregnancy, the facts tell a different story:
Abstinence-only education programs are not effective at delaying the initiation of sexual activity or in reducing teen pregnancy.
Abstinence-only sex education programs are not educational, and rarely provide information on even the most basic topics in human sexuality such as puberty, reproductive anatomy, and sexual health.
Instead, abstinence-only sex education programs are most often covert vehicles to promote faith-based superstition and shame.
Bottom line: Huber is a dangerous, anti-science, religious extremist, who ignores scientific research and instead promotes religious superstition as public health policy.