U.S. President Donald Trump has opted to slice federal benefits for programs that help young Americans avoid unwanted teenage pregnancies.
The Department of Health and Human Services notified institutions around the country that the federal government would be shifting aid packages to curb teenage pregnancies, changing the parameters of grant money to end by 2018 instead of the original promise of 2020, according to The Hill.
The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) was started under former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2010 and aims to reduce the rate of teenage pregnancies through education and access to care, particularly in lower-income communities.
The program initially came with a five-year grant, but after evaluation, the Trump administration has opted to trim it to three years, ending in 2018.
"The very weak evidence of positive impact of these programs stands in stark contrast to the promised results, jeopardizing the youth who were served, while also proving to be a poor use of more than $800 million in taxpayer dollars," read a statement from the HHS explaining the cuts, according to CNN.
But not everyone agrees. Funding was slashed after just the first round of grants was released, meaning that the program was immediately judged for its effectiveness without secondary evaluation.
"Judging the current round of grantees on the evaluation results of the first round makes no sense," argued Rachel Fey, the director of public policy at the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy. "The whole point of the first round was to learn what did and didn't work, and that gets incorporated into what they're doing in the second round," Fey told Axios.
The Hill reports the cuts will amount to roughly $200 million over the next two years. TPP has funded initiatives in 39 states.
"There was no communication about the reason [for the cuts]," said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. The city's program is heavily invested in education and outreach, as Baltimore's birth rate is three times the national average. The city is set to lose $3.5 million in grant money over the next two years.
"We don’t have another way to fill this deficit. This will leave a huge hole in our ability to deliver health education," Wen said.
According to the HHS, teen pregnancy has been on a steady decline since peaking in 1991. The teen birth rate was 9 percent lower in 2014 than it was in 2013.