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Lawsuits challenge termination of teen pregnancy prevention program

[JURIST] Nine local government and health care organizations filed four lawsuits on Thursday in US federal district courts challenging the Trump administration's July 2017 termination of grants for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPP Program), a congressionally mandated initiative funding programs to prevent teen pregnancy.

The lawsuits were filed in the US District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Washington, Maryland and the District of Columbia [complaints, PDF].

The complaints allege that the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) [official website] failed to provide a reasoned basis for the termination of the grants in observance of HHS regulations, thus constituting "a final agency action that is arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with law under the Administrative Procedure Act [statute, PDF]."

The complaints also assert that "HHS's decision to terminate the TPP Program grants constitutes an unlawful impoundment of appropriated funds, in violation of the Continuing Appropriation Acts, the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act and the Anti-Deficiency Act" [statutes, PDF].

The TPP program was a major shift away from the abstinence-only approach to pregnancy prevention that had been federal policy for decades and towards an evidence-based approach focused on funding programs that could demonstrate success, regardless of methodology.

The complaints contend that the TPP Program has been heralded as one of the country's most promising evidence-based programs, receiving bipartisan support as an example of how to administer a high quality evidence-based program citing statistics demonstrating "that since the its inception in 2010, the teen birth rate has declined 41% from 2010 to 2016-a drop that is more than twice as large as the decline in any other six-year period."

Additionally, the lawsuits claim that terminating the TPP Program without a justified explanation will waste millions of dollars in resources and deprive the federal government and researchers of completing current research on new evidence based programs that are needed to maintain the important gains that have been made in helping adolescents avoid unintended pregnancy.

Leslie Kantor [official bio], VP of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, stated [press release]

The Trump-Pence administration is trying to abruptly eliminate a valuable and effective program in order to impose its beliefs on everyone-and it's putting young people at risk. The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program is popular; it does good work, and it has helped millions of young people stay safe and healthy. Today, we're going to court to fight for the 1.2 million young people who depend on these programs. Young people deserve the education and information they need to make smart decisions about their future - and the Trump-Pence administration is trying to take that away from them."

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