How did you first learn about birth control? Maybe it was part of your sex education curriculum in high school, or maybe you didn’t get any information about birth control whatsoever. After all, studies show that fewer adolescents are learning about methods of birth control from medically accurate sex ed sources, and more are being taught abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM).
Young people should get age-appropriate, medically accurate information and answers to their questions about sex and relationships — without being shamed or judged.
But the Trump-Pence administration disagrees, and has been chipping away at access to birth control and sex ed.
Helping to orchestrate these plans is Valerie Huber, chief of staff to the assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Huber is anti-birth control and anti-abortion. She’s helping the administration roll back birth control access and stop young people from getting important information about their health.
Abstinence education is a great way to get to the end of abortion in our lifetime.Valerie Huber at the Bringing America Back to Life conference in 2012
It’s time you learned this birth control skeptic’s name — and why she’s harmful to your health care.
She has the final say on how YOU control your body
Huber gets final say on which programs receive funding from Title X, the nation’s program dedicated to affordable reproductive health care. Her strong support for abstinence-only programs raises concerns that she’ll take this opportunity to block people from getting evidence-based health care and information at Planned Parenthood health centers.
Huber gained this power after the Trump-Pence administration drastically changed the Title X’s priorities — pushing women to go to providers that emphasize abstinence-only messages, or that promote fertility awareness methods (aka so-called “natural birth control”) like the “calendar method” and “the rhythm method” over other common, more effective forms of birth control, like IUDs or the birth control shot. These new priorities may even open the door to giving federal funds to anti-abortion counseling centers.
She helped orchestrate devastating cuts to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
The most notable change since Huber’s arrival at HHS is an announced plan to terminate research and program grants under the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) two years ahead of schedule — jeopardizing important, evidence-based sex education programs.
Those grants sustain the essential work of empowering young people to lead safe and healthy lives, and take us backward on all the progress that’s been made. Take, for example, America’s birth rate among teenagers — which in recent years, due in part to broader access to contraception and sex education, has fallen to record lows.
Together, we have to take a stand against these attacks on our health.
She spent YEARS promoting abstinence-only programs
Long before she joined the Trump-Pence administration, Huber was pushing for abstinence-only-until-marriage (AOUM) programs — which have been proven to be ineffective, lack basis in fact, and encourage feelings of shame and confusion. They also leave teenagers at heightened risk of unintended pregnancy and STDs. Yet Huber insists that AOUM programs should be taught to young people across America.
Previously, Huber was the president of Ascend, the premier AOUM advocacy group, formerly known as the National Abstinence Education Association. Ascend’s work includes developing language used in a 2012 Tennessee law that threatened fines of up to $500 for sex education programs that exposed students to information about birth control, or as Huber calls it, “gateway sexual activities.”
Huber also founded a "character-building and risk-avoidance" program called REACH and managed Ohio's state-funded Department of Health’s Abstinence Education Program, which was completed by 100,000 students every year. These programs prioritized AOUM programs over giving teens fact-based information about the sexual health.
She has a code name for "abstinence."
Throughout her anti-birth control crusade, Huber has often used the term “sexual risk avoidance” (SRA). But we all know what she really means: abstinence-only-until-marriage. In an interview with Focus On The Family, an anti-LGBTQ hate group, Huber claimed incorrectly that AOUM programs were “holistic” and that they “cast a vision for a young person’s future” — when really, they’re ineffective and not based in fact.
Furthermore, Huber is known for her fear mongering around teen sex, and once went on the record to warn against “normalizing teen sex” — despite a 2016 study that shows the use of contraception methods leads to a decrease in teen pregnancy rates.
Young people have a right to learn the information and skills they need to protect their health.