February 19, 2010
ACLU Sues USAID Over Religion-Based Abstinence-Only Programs Overseas
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to obtain public documents detailing its abstinence-only-until-marriage sexual education programs overseas. A recent inspector general’s report deemed the programs unconstitutional because they use taxpayer money to promote religious-based messaging.
“The United States government cannot be in the business of exporting religiously infused abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that we know fail to give young people the information they need to stay healthy,” Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement. “It is essential that the government provide all of the information it has about these programs so that the public has a full accounting of how taxpayer dollars are being spent.”
The ACLU is demanding that USAID provide public documents and materials related to its abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that are funded through HIV/AIDS grants, including requests for proposals, contracts, curricula used by grantees, communications between USAID and the White House and communications between USAID and its grantees about the programs.
“In the face of a growing global HIV/AIDS crisis, USAID is not only violating basic constitutional principles by promoting government-funded religious activities, it is unconscionably putting young people’s health and lives at risk,” said Rose Saxe, staff attorney with the ACLU AIDS Project.
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