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Local government and nonprofit groups are suing the Trump administration for cutting off funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs. More than 80 Obama-era grants were expected to last until 2020, but the Department of Health and Human Services eliminated them last summer. NPR's Alison Kodjak reports.
ALISON KODJAK, BYLINE: Julie Liles was just 14 when she gave birth to her daughter Emily. As Emily entered her teen years, her mother worried.
JULIE LILES: Always in the back of my mind was a worry that she would find herself in the same situation.
KODJAK: So when Emily suggested they attend a sex education program together, her mom jumped at the chance. They spent an entire Saturday together holed up at a local high school in rural Shelton, Wash. They talked about relationships, love and sex, and it changed how Liles' related to her daughter.
LILES: It was almost instantly that I felt that I could talk to my daughter in a different way without automatically jumping to assumption, without, you know, just cutting her off and being angry or being embarrassed.
KODJAK: The program was sponsored by the area's Planned Parenthood chapter, and now it's at risk of disappearing. That's because the Trump administration cut off funding for the federal Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, which pays for the workshop Liles attended along with similar efforts across the country. Now the Planned Parenthood affiliate and eight other groups are suing. They say the administration canceled their five-year grants with no justification. Carrie Flaxman is a lawyer at Planned Parenthood.
CARRIE FLAXMAN: Congress has appropriated money for this program and directed how it's to be set up, and the administration cannot ignore the direction of Congress.
KODJAK: The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program has been held up by some as a model of how government programs should work. It devotes most of its hundred-million-dollar annual budget only to projects that already have been shown to be effective, and a smaller fraction of that money goes to trying new ideas and study whether they work.
One new idea is Crush, a smartphone app for teens. It's got information about relationships, dating, health and sex, and it uses videos, comics and quizzes to draw kids in. Crush was created with a federal grant to the Healthy Teen Network, a nonprofit in Baltimore that is among those suing the government. The group's CEO is Pat Paluzzi.
PAT PALUZZI: We know that young people want information, and this is kind of how they want it because it's private. It's on their own time, but it's very relatable.
KODJAK: But with the federal money disappearing, work on a second app aimed at older teens is ending. A Trump administration spokeswoman says they canceled the Teen Pregnancy Program because it was ineffective. She says most of the projects were found to have no impact on teen behavior. Instead, the president's budget has allocated money for abstinence-only education. The lawsuits are filed in federal courts in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Washington state. Alison Kodjak, NPR News.
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