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Examining Specter's Earmarks For Abstinence Education Programs

Armen Hareyan's picture

Abstinence-Based Sex Education

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The Politico on Wednesday examined Sen. Arlen Specter's (R-Pa.) earmarks for abstinence-based sex education programs. According to The Politico, Specter -- the ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHSand Education -- has earmarked more than $8 million to dozens ofabstinence programs in Pennsylvania. A fiscal year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education bill (HR 3043) that passed the Senate last week included 188 earmarks secured bySpecter and which total $19 million, including $1 million for the Women's Care Center of Erie County, which provides "abortion recovery" counseling.

Specter,who supports abortion rights and favors comprehensive sex educationprograms, sees the abstinence earmarks as responding to a "significantsegment of his constituency, which he believes is entitled to implementprograms most consistent with their values," Scott Hoeflich, Specter'schief of staff, said in a statement. Larry Frankel, legislativedirector of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania,said Specter's actions are "another example of why earmarks are soproblematic," adding, "They can be used to pry and curry favor withconstituents based on political expediency rather than a demonstrationthat the earmark is the best use of money."

Specter is the onlymember of Congress who earmarks money for abstinence educationprograms, and some fiscal advocates have said they suspect politicsplay a part in his earmark selections, The Politico reports. Specter has said his staff chooses earmark recipients based only on merit (Budoff Brown, The Politico, 10/31).

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