With one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country, the Texas Department of Health (DOH) launched a $1.2 million teen pregnancy prevention website that promotes abstinence and makes no mention of birth control.
Despite the fact that teen pregnancy has been declining in the past decade, the rate is increasing in the state of Texas, where 22 percent of teens who give birth already have one child.
The DOH website, OutTown4Teens.org, was funded by taxpayers and a federal grant from the Title V State Abstinence Education Grant Program.
DOH spokesperson Christine Mann called the website a “hub of coordinated information” to reduce teen pregnancy.
When the Texas Observer asked Mann why the site leaves out contraception education, she wrote in an email: “The campaign focuses on the delay of sexual activity as a way to decrease the teen birth rate and the rate of sexually transmitted diseases. State laws guide the agency, and as a general strategy Texas is an abstinence-first state. Abstinence is our first choice for teens.”
The site “seems primarily to be a home for buzzwords like ‘community mobilization,’ ‘strategic action’ and ‘conceptual framework’,” wrote Observer reporter Carolyn Jones.
Jones asked how the project would measure the website’s success at addressing teen pregnancy.
“The evaluation criteria for this project have not yet been finalized,” Mann wrote.
President Barack Obama attempted to eliminate the Title V fund in the 2010 budget proposal, but it was shot down by the GOP. Title V was tacked onto a 1996 welfare reform bill. Restoring its funding into 2014 was a concession made to the GOP in order to pass Obamacare.
Republican lawmakers in Texas actively seek out that funding, according to the Observer, making abstinence-only education an official party platform.