Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnestota has triggered the ire of the local Planned Parenthood for refusing a federal grant under the new health care law to fund sex education that would push contraceptive use.
Pawlenty, who has ordered the state to reject the federal health care legislation “to the fullest extent possible,” is instead opting for an abstinence-centered education program.
The governor declined to apply for $850,000 towards a federal Personal Responsibility Education Program, which would provide “comprehensive” sex education to Minnesota public schools, by the Monday deadline.
Pawlenty has meanwhile accepted a half-million dollar grant towards abstinence-only education. While the federal government offered to foot the bill for the condom-friendly plan, it required that the state provide $379,000 in matching funds for the abstinence-only version, causing some to criticize Pawlenty for eschewing the less expensive route.
Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota blasted Pawlenty’s decision to turn down the grant. “Young people have a right to accurate, complete information to help them postpone sexual activity and protect themselves when they become sexually active,” wrote PPMNDSD president and CEO Sarah Stoesz in a MinnPost.com column. Stoesz argued that “data conclusively show” that explicit sex education is more likely to delay sexual activity than abstinence-only education.
However, several studies have backed the effectiveness of abstinence education. One high-profile study released earlier this year found that abstinence-only education was linked with significantly higher rates of delayed sexual activity in high-risk teens than were more explicit sex education programs.
Tom Prichard, head of the Minnesota Family Council, lauded the governor’s move. “It’s better to spend no money on sex education if it’s going to have a condom message,” Prichard told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune. “You are pouring fuel on the fire.”
In an executive order signed Tuesday, Pawlenty made it clear that the condom-pushing plan was not his only issue with the federal health care legislation: the order directed state agencies to decline all discretionary participation in the federal health care legislation unless required by law or approved by the office of the Governor.
“Obamacare is an intrusion by the federal government into personal health care matters and it’s an explosion of federal spending that does nothing to make health care more affordable,” Governor Pawlenty said in an accompanying statement. Pawlenty said that the state must reject “to the fullest extent possible” the new health care law, whose provisions he said “are laying the groundwork for a federally-controlled healthcare system.”
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said she had not read Pawlenty’s document, only commenting that she was “afraid that citizens of Minnesota may be the victims of whatever it is that’s coming their way.”
Planned Parenthood, which is set to benefit on a large scale from the health care law’s abortion-expanding provisions, also took a shot at the order: Stoesz lamented that “the state of Minnesota will not be allowed to share in the bipartisan progress made through health care reform.”
Yet Americans’ views about the controversial legislation continues to prove unfavorable: according to a Monday Rasmussen Reports survey, 56 percent of U.S. voters favor repealing the bill, while 40 percent oppose such a move. In addition, 46 percent of the former group “strongly support” a repeal, whereas only 28 percent on the opposite side feel strongly on the issue.