T he Trump Administration has cut $216 million in funding for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Pro-
gram, administered by the Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Adolescent Health (OAH). OAH describes the program as
a national, evidence-based program that funds di- verse organizations working to prevent teen preg- nancy across the United States … with a focus on populations with the greatest need in order to re- duce disparities in teen pregnancy and birth rates.
The cuts will affect more than 80 institutions around the country that are currently conducting multi-year research projects. The projects were awarded five-year grants in 2015 that will now end on June 30, 2018. The funded projects are exclusively involved in preventing youth preg- nancies and do not provide abortion counseling. Both Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Assistant Secretary for Health Valerie Huber are advocates for abstinence-only education and oppose Federal funding for birth control. As a Republican Representative from Georgia, Price voted in 2015 for an amendment that would have allowed insurers to opt out of covering preventive services for women, including birth control, on the basis of religious or moral objections. In 2011, he supported a resolution that would have eliminated the Title X Family Planning Program.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 229,715 babies were born to women aged 15 to 19 years old in 2015, for a birth rate of 22.3 per 1,000 women in this group. This represents a record low for U.S. teens and a drop of 8 percent from 2014. Despite this decline, CDC says that the U.S. teen preg- nancy rate is substantially higher than in other western industrialized nations, and racial/ethnic and geographic disparities in teen birth rates persist.
The CDC also estimates that in 2010, teen pregnan- cy and childbirth cost U.S. taxpayers $9.4 billion in in- creased health care, foster care, incarceration rates among children of teen parents, and lost tax revenue because of lower educational attainment and income among teen mothers.
For related background, see the May 2014 issue of Supreme Court Debates on “Contraception Under Obamacare” and the April 2012 issue of Congressional Digest on “Mandated Contraceptive Coverage.” n
O n June 8, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee approved a bill to create a streamlined
process by which the Federal Government would autho- rize commercial space launches.
H.R. 2809, the American Space Commerce Free Enterprise Act, introduced by Commitee Chair Lamar Smith (TX-R), would expand the authority of the Office of Space Commerce within the Department of Commerce to include supervision of commercial space activity. Because the private sector is increasingly investing and developing spacecraft, satellites, and other technolo- gies for nongovernmental exploration of outer space, the bill would establish a certification process for the private sector to operate those technologies. When applying for
certification, entities that launch such objects would have to submit information about their planned operations, as well as a plan to mitigate space debris.
So far, only one private compapny, Moon Express, has received government approval to fly a mission. Later this year, that company’s first spacecraft will land ro- bots capable of photographing the moon’s surface. Moon Express worked its way through the Federal Aviation Administration, the State Department, and the Defense Department to get approval for the flight.
Chairman Smith said of the bill,
This transformative legislation declares that America is open for business in outer space. … With this innovative legislaton, we position the American space industry as a leader. New space operators would now be incentivized to set up shop on American ground and allow the United States to maintain and adhere to our internation- al obligations as well as improving our national security.
The committee’s Ranking Minority Member, Rep- resentative Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-D), objected to the lack of an interagency review process, which she said “can help provide companies and investors the assurance that an agency will not try to block their proposed activity at the last minute simply because the agency hadn’t had an opportunity to review the proposal.” In response, Chairman Smith proposed an amend- ment, approved unanimously, that would require that the Commerce secretary consult with the State and Defense departments, as well as other agencies. The Commerce Committee’s Space Subcommittee,
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Commercial Space Flight
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