CDC launches investigation into group that opposes abstinence funding

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com August 19 2003 12:00 AM ET

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, urged by Republican lawmakers, on Monday launched an investigation into whether the sex education group Advocates for Youth misused federal grant money to lobby against funding for abstinence-only programs, The Washington Post reports. The investigation into the group, the third to be held during the past year, was prompted by Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.), an advocate of abstinence-only sex education and HIV prevention, and 23 other conservative members of Congress who believe the group improperly supported anti-abstinence lobbying with federal grant money. Advocates for Youth is a Washington, D.C.-based national organization that supports programs that give young people the information they need to make responsible decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.

CDC spokeswoman Kathy Harben said the CDC investigation is aimed only at collecting financial information at the request of Pitts and the other Republican lawmakers. But Bill Barker of Advocates for Youth says the investigation is part of an ongoing Republican-backed plan to intimidate any group that doesn't toe the Administration's abstinence-only education line. "Advocates is concerned that it appears that the selective and political use of these audits is to intimidate organizations such as ours that support comprehensive sex education," he said. "They want to impose a kind of censorship." He also noted that the group has received federal money for the past 15 years without any suggestion of impropriety but has been investigated three times during the past year, all at the request of conservative members of Congress.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) agrees that the investigation is an attempt to intimidate the organizations. He sent a letter on Friday to Health and Human Services secretary Tommy Thompson criticizing the investigation, calling it "politically motivated."