June 4, 2018

Court Saves Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs, Rules in Favor of Grant Recipients in Class Action Against HHS

Court Orders HHS to Reinstate Class Members’ Grants in Case Over Unlawful Termination of Evidence-Based Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Friday night set aside the unlawful termination by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of dozens of grants awarded under the congressionally mandated Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.

In April, Healthy Futures of Texas, a grant recipient represented by lawyers at Public Citizen Litigation Group, filed a class-action lawsuit to preserve five-year program grants awarded to it and 61 other recipients in 2015. Ten other grantees had sued earlier.

Congress created the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program in 2010 to fund a range of evidence-based programs to prevent teen pregnancy. In 2015, HHS awarded the second set of five-year grants. Last summer, however, HHS announced that it would ask Congress to terminate the program, and it informed all current grantees that it would end their grants two years early. Nonetheless, Congress continued to fund the program.

In Friday’s decision, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that HHS’ termination of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program grants was unlawful and ordered HHS to reinstate the grants of all 62 class members.

“With this decision, our youth now have the chance for better health, educational attainment and economic opportunities that will change their lives,” said Evelyn Delgado, president and CEO of Healthy Futures of Texas, which is using the grant money to implement a health education curriculum called Big Decisions for youth ages 13–17 in rural school districts in Texas. “The decision enables us to continue making significant progress in reducing teen birth rates in Texas and across the country.”

In February and March 2018, Public Citizen and several other organizations filed four suits on behalf of 10 grantees in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Washington state, seeking to set aside the unlawful termination of their grants. All four of those courts concluded that the termination of the grants was unlawful. Despite these decisions, HHS refused to reinstate the five-year project periods for the remaining 62 grant recipients, and it announced its intention to use the funding for new grants focused on abstinence-only education.

“The court’s decision ensures that the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program will continue to be directed by evidence – not ideology – as Congress intended when it mandated the continuation of the program,” said Sean Sherman, the lead Public Citizen attorney representing the class.

For more information, visit the case page.