Abstinence Ed Funding Narrowly Passes in Senate

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

In a surprising 12-11 victory, the Senate Finance Committee voted to restore Title V abstinence-only funding to the tune of $50 million a year through 2014.

According to the Washington Independent, an amendment to restore the funding to the health care reform bill known as America’s Healthy Futures Act of 2009, was proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). This amendment calls for $50 million in federal funds through 2014 for abstinence-only education with the stipulation that the money cannot be used to fund contraceptive projects.

The amendment passed by a narrow 12-11 vote and only because two Democrats, Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas decided to vote along with the 10 Republicans on the committee.

The passage came as a surprise to Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who offered an alternative to Sen. Hatch’s amendment that would provide teen programs that address contraception, HIV/AIDS, healthy relationships and financial literary. Sen. Baucus’ amendment also passed by a vote of 14 to 9.

The unusual circumstance of having both amendments pass the committee at the same time is an anomaly Sen. Baucus attributed to the lateness of the hour.

“We’re getting to 10 o’clock,” he said. “[Strange] things start to happen after 10 o’clock.”

Both amendments must face approval by the full House and Senate before becoming part of a final health-care reform bill.

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