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Hey, Money is Money

The federal government has made a $170 million available to the states for a much debated abstinence-only sex education program. Personally, I would have preferred to see this money raised and spent by the private sector. And this is a perfect example of why:

After saying earlier that she had not made a decision on the matter, New Mexico health secretary Michelle Lujan Grisham this week announced that her department will use a $502,785 federal grant earmarked for abstinence-only sex education. Some New Mexico health officials say abstinence-only programs disseminate inaccurate information about condoms, undercutting public efforts to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

This year Congress gave $170 million to abstinence-only programs, which by law cannot discuss any benefits of birth control or the benefit of condoms in preventing STDs. Grisham said her department would challenge “this narrower interpretation” of federal guidelines “and assure that factual information regarding condoms and contraception will be included in the curriculum.”

New Mexico officials just can’t help themselves. If they see federal money available, they feel compelled to go for it. Just sit in an audience where a legislator is talking about Medicaid, and you’ll hear them say how we “need” to spend more money, so we can get the three to one match. The worse part is that they seek the money even when they plan to disregard or manipulate the guidelines. I wonder what the Character Counts folks would have to say about this.