On December 19, 2007, New Mexico’s Health Secretary, Alfredo Vigil, announced that the state will reject Title V federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funds for Fiscal Year 2008. In the announcement, Dr. Vigil cited several reasons why New Mexico will not reapply for the federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funds: “There has never been a scientific consensus about this,” Dr. Vigil explained. He continued, “It had an ideological base from people who just wanted this to happen for all kinds of reasons.”1
Dr. Vigil also cited recent studies which found that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs are not effective in preventing pregnancy or delaying sexual activity for young people.2 Vigil specifically mentioned a study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which found no evidence that federal abstinence-only-until-marriage programs increase rates of sexual abstinence.
An editorial by the Albuquerque Journal published on December 19th supported this decision, stating, “New Mexico urgently needs effective sex education. Abstinence-only works for some young people, but it is failing too many others. And the consequences of that failure can be severe: sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.”3
In past fiscal years, New Mexico received or was eligible for $502,785 per year in Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funds. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has allocated $50 million in federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding under Title V each year since 1998. States that choose to accept these funds must match every four federal dollars with three state-raised dollars and are then responsible for either using the funds or distributing them to public and private entities.
In total, sixteen states have withdrawn from the Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage funding, including Arizona where Governor Napolitano announced on January 18, 2008 that beginning in Fiscal Year 2009 Arizona will reject Title V abstinence-only funds. Including New Mexico’s returned funds, rejected Title V abstinence-only-until-marriage program funding will amount to over 1/3 of all money being left unspent and returned to the federal treasury.
“We thank Governor Richardson, Secretary Vigil, and former Secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham for their commitment to fighting against the Bush administration’s failed abstinence-only policies,” said William Smith, vice president for public policy at SIECUS. “New Mexico is now one of sixteen states to forgo this wasteful and overly restrictive federal money in the coming year. It is part of a sweeping trend of states making the responsible choice about sexuality education.”
- “State abstains from funds,” Clovis News Journal, 19 December 2007, accessed 14 January 2008, <http://www.cnjonline.com/news/abstinence_24283___article.html/education_new.html>.
- “Abstinence-Only Fails to Protect Many Teens,” Albuquerque Journal, 19 December 2007, accessed 22 January 2008, < http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1P2-13540785.html>.