Attorney General Aaron Ford Files Brief in Support of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program

March 19, 2019

Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting a legal challenge against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) change to the funding structure of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) grant program, which could put Nevada teens at risk for unintended pregnancy.

    Congress created the TPP to fund evidence-based programs proven effective in reducing teen pregnancy. In 2018, HHS issued two Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) for the TTP program. These FOAs changed the requirements for the program by shifting the focus to abstinence-only education, rather than evidence-based programs shown to be effective. The lawsuit is brought by Planned Parenthood, and AG Ford is joined by a coalition of 20 attorneys general in support of its suit.

      Since its creation in 2009, the TPP Program has provided nearly $1 billion for state, local, and community programs that have been proven to reduce rates of teenage pregnancy. Those programs reached half a million teens from 2010-2014, and are anticipated to reach 1.2 million more from 2015-2019. The program puts an intentional focus on communities with the greatest need and most vulnerable youth, including teens of color, in foster care or in rural areas. The TPP Program is an indispensable component of state efforts to reduce the physical and medical risks of teenage pregnancy, as well as associated emotional, social, and financial costs.

        In their brief, the coalition of attorneys general argue that the 2018 FOAs threaten to frustrate the design of the TPP Program and undermine the states’ efforts to reduce teen pregnancy. The FOAs would shift the focus of the grant process to rewarding programs that promote a particular “abstinence-only” ideology, rather than following Congress’ mandate to fund programs that are medically accurate and have been proven to work through rigorous evaluation.

          If the FOAs are allowed to stand, federal funds will be directed to less-effective or medically inaccurate programs, while other programs that have been proven to work will languish. As a result, more teens will be at risk of becoming pregnant, imposing significant additional costs on the states and their residents.

            “I’m proud to join my fellow attorneys general around the country in support of medically accurate, evidence-based programs to reduce teen pregnancies,” said AG Ford. “The Teen Pregnancy Prevention program has proven results, yet the Department of Health and Human Services is threatening to reverse that success by promoting abstinence-only education. Today’s brief explains how the Department of Health and Human Services is jeopardizing the health and well-being of teens across the country by undermining this program.”

              In two similar cases, Planned Parenthood of NYC v. HHS and Multnomah County v. Azar, the District Court found that HHS had acted unlawfully and vacated or enjoined one of the FOAs. But, the District Court dismissed the case at hand for lack of standing. Planned Parenthood appealed to the Ninth Circuit to reverse the District Court’s decision and to direct the District Court to enter summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs. The coalition of attorneys general have filed today’s friend-of-the-court brief in support of that request.

                Attorney General Ford is joined in this brief by the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

                  To view the filed friend-of-the-court brief, click here.