Louisiana Governor Mike Foster to Challenge Judge's Ruling on Abstinence Funds Religious Link
August 30, 2002
Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster and his sexual abstinence program director are challenging a judge's adverse ruling involving the federally funded program. Attorneys for Foster and Dan Richey, coordinator of the Governor's Program on Abstinence, filed a notice of appeal at the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals last week.Adapted from:
U.S. District Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr. of New Orleans last month ordered the abstinence program to stop giving money to those who convey religious messages "or otherwise advance religion in any way in the course of any event supported in whole or in part by GPA funds. ..." Porteous also told the GPA to cease and desist from disbursing funds to institutions "in which religion is so pervasive that a substantial portion of its functions are subsumed in the religious mission." Porteous' ruling July 25 came in a lawsuit filed in May against the governor and Richey by the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana. Foster created the Louisiana Abstinence Education Project, also known as the Governor's Program on Abstinence, in 1998 to address the problems of teen pregnancy and STDs in the state.
In the past three years, Louisiana has received nearly $5 million in federal funds for such programs. The federal money has come courtesy of an "abstinence-only" education program approved as part of 1996 welfare legislation. Porteous ruled that the GPA has illegally used some funds "to convey religious messages and advance religion." The ruling marked the first successful court challenge to a program funded under the federal program, the ACLU said. The GPA also is funded by state money. Porteous ordered the state to install an oversight program not only to review materials used by organizations and people that receive GPA funds but also to closely monitor their programs. Porteous acknowledged in his ruling that the GPA was motivated by a "legitimate secular purpose" -- reducing and eliminating teenage pregnancy and the spread of STDs through a program of abstaining from sexual activity.
Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.)
08.27.02; Joe Gyan Jr.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.