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." Grisham decided to accept the funds because "in a state as poor as New Mexico, we must leverage every possible resource for our young people." The state's goal is to prevent teen pregnancy and abortion by increasing access to family planning and sex education. "Abstinence education is a key component of that effort, but we must be certain the information young people receive is complete and accurate," she said. (AP)