By Judy Keen
Founded 46 years ago by faith leaders, Annex Teen Clinic provided sexual health services to 1,782 youth in 2016. It takes its message to public schools, contributing to a dramatic drop in Hennepin County’s teen birthrate. Annex installs health mentors in some schools to work one-on-one with students and provides training for teachers and parents, in addition to its clinical services.
Now some of the clinic’s programs and jobs, and other Hennepin County efforts to prevent teen pregnancy, are at risk. President Donald Trump’s administration in July announced an abrupt end — two years early — to what were supposed to be five-year grants specifically aimed at preventing teen pregnancy.
In all, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department notified 81 programs in 31 states and the District of Columbia that $214 million in funding will end June 30, 2018, instead of in 2020.
Officials here and across the country are fighting to save the grants, but worry that the Republican-controlled Congress will not restore funding. Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat said he’ll urge the county to fill the gap if its appeal fails...
Efforts to reverse the grants’ demise have spread across the country. Health officials from 20 U.S. cities have written to HHS Secretary Tom Price to denounce the grants’ elimination. Minnesota Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum and Tim Walz are among 148 House Democrats who sent a July 25 letter to Price demanding an explanation within 45 days for the decision, which came just three months after Congress voted to provide full funding for the latest grants.
“At a time when young people are most in need of information and education to protect their sexual and reproductive health, this administration is denying evidence and science,” the legislators wrote.