Hennepin County Sues Over Pregnancy Prevention Funding
Hennepin County is suing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to continue funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs. The county says its approach has been successful in significantly reducing teen pregnancies in high teen birth areas like Robbinsdale, Brooklyn Center and north Minneapolis.
“They’re asking us to change all of our programs to abstinence only or not be able to receive the money,” said Hennepin County Board member Mike Opat. “We have a program that includes abstinence teaching but it includes some other things as well that helps kids make better decisions. We’re not willing to let that go.”
Hennepin County is finishing the third year of a five-year grant, which has funded sex education and clinic outreach. County officials face difficult decisions when the $1.5 million annual grant ends two years earlier than expected on June 30. County officials are hoping for a court injunction that will keep the program funded as originally expected.
“I think the change in federal criteria is severe so we’re reacting in kind,” said Opat. “I think its an appropriate reaction. There are 81 recipients around the country with this funding. This is the seventh or eight lawsuit. Some of them have been successful around the country, and I hope we will be.”
Since 2007, the number of teens countywide giving birth has dropped by 64 percent.
Congressman Keith Ellison and several other Minnesota lawmakers have also written to the Department of Health and Human Services in opposition to ending the funding.