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Welfare Policy and Reproductive Health: Abstinence Unless Married Programs

In recent years, there has been an increasing federal role in supporting efforts to reduce the incidence of childbirth outside of marriage and decrease teen pregnancy rates through specialized programs. The 1996 welfare law provided a new incentive for states to use federal matching funds to establish educational programs that promote abstinence from sex unless married. This issue brief summarizes current federal and state policies on abstinence unless married programs, highlights the current state of knowledge on the effectiveness of these programs, and reviews public attitudes about abstinence education.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.