We were seeing headlines like these in 2016 and into 2017...
Greater access to effective, long-lasting contraception and federal support for comprehensive sex education programs gets the credit for abortion rates falling below pre-Roe levels. Under Obama, comprehensive sex-ed programs were favored over abstinence-only sex education programs. Check out the chart in the NPR story linked above: the abortion rate has been in decline since 1980. But it rose toward the end of the Bush years (the fruits of abstinence-only sex ed), then plateaued. The abortion rate went into steep decline during the Obama years, hitting its lowest levels ever this year thanks to Obama's sex-ed policies and Obamacare's contraception mandate.
It took a while to get there—it was years before the Obama administration began living up to the promise Obama made during his first inaugural address to restore science to its rightful place, at least where sex ed was concerned—but we’d known since early in the George W. Bush years that abstinence-only sex education programs weren't just ineffectual, they were counterproductive. Teenagers who’d had abstinence-only sex ed didn’t wait until marriage to start having that "one-man, one-woman, for life" sex backed by abstinence educators and practiced by no one. (Least of all Donald Trump.) At best, they delayed becoming sexually active for six months—and when these teenagers did become sexually active, they were less likely to use birth control or condoms. Because why bother? They’d been taught by abstinence-only mis-educators that birth control and condoms don't prevent disease or pregnancy. Consequently these kids were more likely to get a sexually transmitted infection or pregnant—the original sexually transmitted infection—than their peers who’d had comprehensive sex ed.
Well, we can kiss those upbeat headlines goodbye. Last Friday, the Trump administration announced that it was going to stop funding comprehensive sex ed programs—the programs that helped bring teen pregnancy and abortion rates to historic lows—and re-direct federal funds to abstinence-only programs. The Hill reports…
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Friday the availability of grants through the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, (TPPP) a grant program created under former President Obama that funds organizations and programs working to reduce teen pregnancy rates. Trump's HHS announced, however, that unlike under the Obama administration, grants will be geared toward organizations that teach abstinence education to teens instead of the comprehensive sex ed approach the previous administration supported.
This comes as no surprise. Last year Valerie Huber was made chief of staff for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, the office that oversees the teen pregnancy prevention programs. As The Hill points out...
But the Trump administration has been shifting toward abstinence programs since hiring several HHS employees who support the approach, including Valerie Huber, the chief of staff for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health, which oversees the TPP program. Prior to coming to HHS, Huber led Ascend, a national abstinence education advocacy group.
And Huber was already busy undermining the progress made on preventing teen pregnancy:
The administration cut short grants for 81 TPP grantees last summer, arguing the programs, which focused mostly on comprehensive sex ed, were ineffective at curbing teen pregnancy rates. Those grantees would be able to receive funding if they shifted the focus of their programs toward abstinence.
Just as Trump put oil and gas industry lobbyists in key positions at the Department of the Interior, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency, Trump put an abstinence-only sex mis-educator in charge of funding for the nation’s teen sex education programs. Screw the evidence, screw the data, screw those historically low pregnancy, birth and abortion rates.
Zooming out for a second: Donald Trump—a man with five children by three different women, a man who had adulterous affairs with the women who would becoming his second and third wives, a man who raw-dogs porn stars and Playmates and who used to go on Howard Stern to brag about all the women he’d fucked and all the sexually transmitted infections he narrowly avoided—that man, the pussy-grabber-in-chief, is telling American teenagers to remain abstinent until marriage. (Remember, kids: It's one man, one woman, for life. Or in some cases one man, one woman, another woman, another woman, two Russian prostitutes with full bladders, and at least one porn star, for life.)
Screw-as-I-say, not-as-I-screw Republicans are nothing new. We’ve seen them before, and we’re seeing a fresh crop now. Hell, Republican men are singlehandedly driving the abortion rate back up: an RNC official was just forced to resign national deputy finance chairman after the Wall Street Journal reported he paid a pregnant Playboy model $1.6 million to go away and abort their unborn child; a Republican member of the House had to resign last year after he got caught urging his mistress to get an abortion; another member of Congress was actually reelected by his pro-life constituents in 2012, 2014, and 2016 even after it came out that he pushed both his mistress and his wife to get abortions. (Trump wasn't the first Republican to get a mulligan from the religious right.)
I would pretend to be shocked by the hypocrisy but I’m not shocked and I'm done pretending. Just as Donald Trump and his supporters and his media shills are incapable of feeling shame, I’m incapable of feeling shocked by Republican hypocrisy.
But a price will be paid for this hypocrisy. More kids will get sexually transmitted infections, which will please religious conservatives. (The wages of sin and like that.) And the abortion rate will go up—which is going to please the right. Republicans run against the debt and then, once in power, do everything they can to drive the debt up so they can keep running against it. Same with abortion: Republicans run against abortion and then, once they’re in power (and/or in their mistresses), they do all they can to drive the abortion rate up so they can keep running against it. Because they don’t care about the debt of deficits or their unborn children or your born ones. They only care about power.