The Trump administration hit a major roadblock to cutting an Obama-era teen pregnancy prevention program at a time when fewer Black girls are getting pregnant.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice issued a permanent injunction late Tuesday that prevented the administration from ending grants to Planned Parenthood, which enables teens to participate in the organization’s program in multiple states.
The lawsuit noted that the teen birth rate dropped 41 percent since the program launched in 2010. For Blacks and Latinas, the decline has been particularly sharp. President Barack Obama’s administration established the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program, which has served more than 1.2 million teens in 39 states.
Pregnancy and birth rates for Black and Latina teens declined by almost half from 2006 to 2016, according a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. Obama’s TPP program is widely credited for contributing to that decline. The program awards funding to groups tackling adolescent pregnancy, many of them focusing on high-risk teens in communities where there’s a lack of quality sex education and access to contraception.
The Trump administration argued in court that it had the authority to end the program at any time, according to NBC News.
“The plaintiffs are here claiming legal rights they do not have. There is no legal entitlement to further funding beyond each funding year. It’s the agency’s discretion,” the Department of Justice attorney told Rice.
But the judge rejected that claim, ruling that the administration’s attempt to cut the program is arbitrary, adding that the “public interest weighs in favor of Planned Parenthood.”
The administration wanted to promote an abstinence-only agenda, a nod to Trump’s religious conservative supporters.
However, increased use of contraception is a primary reason for the declining teen birth rate, according to a Pew Research Center study. For example, the percentage of sexually active teen girls who used emergency contraception, such as the morning-after pill, rose from 8 percent in 2002 to 22 percent in 2013.
Also, the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives, such as IUDs and implants, rose among low-income teens from 0.4 percent in 2005 to 7.1 percent by 2013.
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