$410B Spending Bill Strikes Blow For Truth-Based Sex Ed, Science

I reported yesterday that the Democrats’ new $410 billion government spending bill fails to restore the Medicaid family-planning aid provision that got unceremoniously sliced from the stimulus bill last month.

But while the spending bill — which increases spending levels between now and October by $20.5 billion — includes a flurry of provisions reversing controversial Bush-era policies on abstinence-based sex education.The Democratic spending plan cuts total funding for abstinence education by $14.2 million, compared with the previous year, and trims Bush’s total abstinence-ed request by $42 million. General family-planning aid has been increased by $7.5 million. The spending bill also specifies that any competitive grants awarded to abstinence-ed programs “shall be scientifically accurate” and that “none of the funds made available in this Act may be used to disseminate scientific information that is deliberately false or misleading.”

If you recall, the Bush administration lavished aid on abstinence-ed programs that, according to independent audits, were rarely evaluated for scientific accuracy. By the end of the Bush years, 23 states were turning down funds for abstinence-only sex-ed funding in a bid to emphasize a more comprehensive approach.

The Democratic spending plan also contains a provision ensuring that no future administration can gag its scientists from testifying truthfully before Congress (as the Bush team sought to do on climate change). The bill states that

scientific information, including such information provided in congressional testimony, requested by the Committees on Appropriations and prepared by government researchers and scientists shall be transmitted to the Committees on Appropriations, uncensored and without delay.