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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
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~ 21 attorneys general filed an amicus brief supporting Planned Parenthood’s challenge against HHS’s FOAs that undermine states’ efforts to reduce teen pregnancy by shifting focus to abstinence-only programs ~

RICHMOND (March 20, 2019) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief supporting Planned Parenthood in their legal challenge against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ change to the funding structure of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) grant program. The case, Planned Parenthood v HHS, is one of three lawsuits challenging two Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) issued by HHS in 2018 for the TPP program, which Congress created to fund evidence-based programs proven effective in reducing teen pregnancy. The 2018 FOAs changed the requirements for the program by shifting the focus to abstinence-only education, rather than evidence-based programs, which have shown to be effective.


“Diverting funds from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program to ideologically-preferred and less effective programs would jeopardize the health and well-being of teens across Virginia,” said Attorney General Herring. “The Department of Health and Human Services is threatening to reverse the success of the TPP Program, which has been proven to reduce teenage pregnancies and their associated costs, by promoting abstinence-only education. My colleagues and I will continue to fight for and support medically accurate, evidence-based programs to reduce teen pregnancies.”


Since its creation in 2009, the TPP Program has provided nearly $1 billion for state, local, and community programs that have been proven to reduce rates of teenage pregnancy. Those programs reached half a million teens from 2010-2014, and are anticipated to reach 1.2 million more from 2015-2019. The program puts an intentional focus on communities with the greatest need and most vulnerable youth, including those of color, in foster care, or in rural areas. The TPP Program is an indispensable component of State efforts to reduce the physical and medical risks of teenage pregnancy, as well as associated emotional, social, and financial costs.


The Attorneys General argue that the 2018 FOAs threaten to frustrate the design of the TPP Program and undermine the States’ efforts to reduce teen pregnancy. The FOAs would shift the focus of the grant process to rewarding programs that promote a particular “abstinence-only” ideology, rather than following Congress’ mandate to fund programs that are medically accurate and have been proven to work through rigorous evaluation.


If the FOAs are allowed to stand, federal funds will be directed to less-effective or medically inaccurate programs, while other programs that have been proven to work will languish. As a result, more teens will be at risk of becoming pregnant, imposing significant additional costs on the States and their residents.


In two similar cases, Planned Parenthood of NYC v. HHS and Multnomah County v. Azar, the District Court found that HHS had acted unlawfully and vacated or enjoined one of the FOAs. However, the district court dismissed the case at hand for lack of standing. Planned Parenthood appealed to the Ninth Circuit to reverse the District Court’s decision and to direct the District Court to enter summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. The Attorneys General filed this amicus brief in support of that request.


Joining Attorney General Herring in filing this amicus brief are the attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.