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Results tagged “Sex education” from Blog for Choice

It's back-to-school school time for students and families across the country. And that means young people will be filing into classrooms to expand their minds and learn.

But when it comes to reproductive health, many students are censored from getting the facts to help them avoid unintended pregnancy until they're ready, prevent STIs, and have a positive self-image. That's because anti-choice politicians have forced teachers to teach "abstinence-only" programs in classrooms across the country, even though they're a huge disaster:


Thankfully, cities and school districts are thinking twice about gambling with young people's futures and are putting a stop to the "abstinence-only" approach.

Just look at Baltimore. The city has developed a program that teaches students about reproductive health by having them create their own comic book about STIs and birth control. Talk about an innovative way to engage young people while also teaching them the facts!


The school district of Lawrence, Kansas is ditching the state's "abstinence-only" programs and are instead following national standards, which include information about birth control and sexual orientation and teaches that sexual development is a natural and normal part of becoming an adult.


And the second-largest school district in Oklahoma gave up on "abstinence-only" when it found that the state had the fourth-highest teen pregnancy rate.

sex ed.png

It's time for even more states to stand up to anti-choice politicians who are pushing "abstinence-only" programs that jeopardize young people. Withholding information about their reproductive health is never the way to go.

Chalkboard_small.jpgThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a new report out on teen pregnancy, and called out how ineffective "abstinence-only" programs really are:

"Only four out of 10 [teenagers] said they had been given information both on how to say no to sex and about birth control. And 83 percent of the boys and girls who had sex said they had not received any sex education before their first time."

Woah. That's just scary. No wonder the U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any developed nation.

This is what the anti-choice movement is all about: keeping people from getting the facts and from making the health-care decisions that are right for them. That means a lot of teens aren't learning what they need to know to stay healthy.

Take a look at four ways the anti-choice movement's agenda is playing out across the country:

  1. "Abstinence-only" programs: Not only has the anti-choice movement made it their agenda to withhold information from young people across the country, "abstinence-only" programs actually promote misinformation and use shaming tactics to block teens from accessing birth control or their full range of reproductive options. Only 28 states require sex education that teaches about birth control.
  2. In one Mississippi classroom, students of an "abstinence-only" program were made to pass around an unwrapped piece of chocolate to show that sexual activity is dirty and shameful. A school district in Texas compared sexually active teens to "chewed up gum" that should be thrown away. Another program taught students that if they have sex they're like a "rose without petals." Education is supposed to encourage and inspire students, not shame them and make them feel worthless. The problem is these programs just don't work. Teens will still have sex, but they have no idea of the risks or consequences.

  3. Anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs): The anti-choice movement's agenda of denying information and using shame isn't only happening in schools. Our opponents have created "crisis pregnancy centers" to stop women from choosing abortion. These fake clinics are meant to look like abortion providers to lure women facing an unintended pregnancy through their doors, but then they tell women lies like "abortion causes breast cancer," "Condoms are porous," and "abortions will ruin your chance of having children in the future."
  4. Attacks on contraceptive coverage: For the anti-choice movement, withholding information isn't extreme enough. They are also working to let bosses who oppose birth control refuse to cover it for their employees and two of their cases have gone all the way to the Supreme Court. One in three women struggles to afford birth control, so if these bosses win it's going to mean that a lot of women could lose access altogether.
  5. Laws that close abortion clinics: Anti-choice politicians in states like Texas close reproductive-health clinics, including ones that provide abortion. We're seeing this happen in Ohio where new restrictions are forcing clinics out of business because they cannot comply quickly enough with unnecessary transfer agreements with local hospitals. These Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws have one goal: shut down clinics where women can get safe and legal abortion care. And, sadly, in states that are dominated by anti-choice politicians, these laws are doing just that.
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Elizabeth Smart caught the nation's attention when she was kidnapped for nine months. She survived horrible trauma - and is now working to protect and educate children about violent and sexual crimes.

When she spoke at a forum on human trafficking, Smart shared that she "felt so dirty and so filthy" after being raped by her kidnapper. She attributes feeling worthless to growing up with "abstinence-only" programs:

"I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, I'm that chewed up piece of gum, nobody re-chews a piece of gum, you throw it away.' And that's how easy it is to feel like you no longer have worth, you no longer have value. Why would it even be worth screaming out? Why would it even make a difference if you are rescued? Your life still has no value."

Dangerous "abstinence-only" programs withhold information about reproductive health and often tell students that birth control, including condoms, is ineffective for preventing pregnancy or protecting against STDs. Even worse, these programs use shame to dissuade teens from having sex, and often use comparisons like the "chewed gum" metaphor to make them feel bad for becoming sexually active.

Clearly, shaming teens has consequences. That's why Elizabeth is speaking out through her foundation to send the message that "you will always have value and nothing can change that."

Even now, anti-choice politicians across the country are fighting to defund and block comprehensive sex-education programs that help teens protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and disease and give them the confidence to make the decisions that are right for them.

We're grateful for Smart's courage to speak openly about such a personal chapter in her life. And we hope that her message will not be lost on deaf anti-choice ears in Congress and in state legislatures across the country.

Check out our graphic and share it with your friends on Facebook:


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When it comes to comprehensive sex education, anti-choice politicians - the same ones who want to ban access to safe abortion care - are fighting to block teens from receiving objective and complete information.

This year, anti-choice lawmakers are moving several anti-sex-education measures.

Politicians introduced measures to block groups that provide abortion, including Planned Parenthood, from teaching sex education in schools in Arkansas and North Dakota. And legislators are still considering similar language in Texas.

In Ohio, politicians tried to insert an amendment to the state budget bill that would effectively ban comprehensive sex education from schools and fine teachers thousands of dollars for endorsing "gateway sexual activity." Gateway sexual activity?

Mean Girls_Sex ed.gif

It's hard to believe the utter hypocrisy of these anti-choice politicians. They rail against abortion care, but want to withhold important information that young people need to learn how to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. The alternative that our opponents are peddling is, in short, dangerous.

In West Virginia, student Katelyn Campbell became suspicious when an "abstinence-only" assembly was scheduled at her high school. Katelyn educated herself about the speaker, and not only decided not to attend, but also to alert the local papers.

The principal at Katelyn's school threatened to call her future college and tell them that Katelyn is a "backstabber" with "bad character" for leading the charge against the assembly. Katelyn has since helped raise awareness about the many problems with "abstinence-only" programs in high schools today.

We know that the best way to reduce unintended pregnancy, and therefore the need for abortion, is to educate our young people on how to practice responsible, safe sex with accurate and comprehensive information - something anti-choice politicians and activists refuse to accept.

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Katelyn CampbellI recently heard Katelyn Campbell's inspiring story, and just had to share it with you.

Katelyn is a high school student in West Virginia. Her school recently hosted an "abstinence-only" program that that lied to students about birth control and denies them the information they need to stay healthy. The presenter, Pam Stenzel, says taking birth control can lead to becoming "sterile or dead." Her program is truly outrageous.

Katelyn fought back against these lies. She talked with the local newspaper, and even went on CNN.

How did the school principal George Aulenbacher respond? He tried to shut her down. Katelyn says Aulenbacher called her into his office to berate her and threatened to call her future college to tell them she has "bad character" and is a "backstabber."

But Katelyn didn't back down. She knows, like we do, that teens need accurate information about abstinence and birth control so that they can make the responsible decisions that are right for them. After all, one in four teen girls in the U.S. has an STD, and one third of young women will become pregnant before they're 20 years old.

So here's a big high five to Katelyn, and all the other young people like her who are standing up for their rights!

And props to Wellesley College for letting Katelyn know that it's happy to welcome her in the fall.

How can you show your support? Tell the Board of Education and superintendent of schools in Kanawha County to censure Principal Aulenbacher and support comprehensive sex education.

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New York Celebrates the Power of Choice


Yesterday, our supporters, including many pro-choice Millennials, gathered in New York for the Power of Choice Reception.

It was a veritable who's-who of Millennial pro-choice leaders.

Shelby Knox, nationally known as the subject of "The Education of Shelby Knox" and feminist organizer, speaker and writer, was our keynote speaker.

Shelby made headlines in her home state of Texas by taking on bad policies that had made her community one of the worst in the country when it came to teen pregnancies and STDs. Even as a teenager, she understood how the personal connects with the political.

Shelby knew that accurate sex education that gave students better information about contraception and ways to protect themselves from disease could make a difference in their lives. You can keep up with Shelby's work advancing women's rights on Twitter @ShelbyKnox.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, pointed out that it's Millennials like Shelby (and yours truly!) who will determine the future of reproductive choice in America:

Now, I am not going to sugarcoat things, I know there can be a generation gap when it comes to this issue. Quite honestly, those of us in my generation often want to tell younger women and men about our stories.

"Listen to us," we say.

Well, at NARAL Pro-Choice America we believe it is time that we start asking and listening to younger women and men about their experiences on reproductive choice.

Consider this number.

By 2020, 40 percent of all eligible voters in America will be Millennials.

And we are committed to working with you to protect choice for your generation and future generations to come.

Well, if all the pro-choice Millennials who came out in New York last night are any indicator, our generation is on board and fired up to protect a woman's right to make personal, private medical decisions!

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Miss America Speaks Out for Real Sex Ed


Caressa Cameron is a woman on a mission. She's Miss America 2010, and she's using her reign to promote a good cause: HIV/AIDS education. Cameron says that watching an uncle die of AIDS made her want to become an expert on STD-prevention:

As I went through the sex education programs in the state of Virginia, being taught by my gym teachers who couldn't pronounce syphilis, I was like, this ain't working.

Cameron speaks out at schools across the country, making sure young people have the facts they need to keep themselves safe. She emphasizes a comprehensive approach to sex education to prevent the spread of HIV and other STDs:

I think they all go hand in hand. I think you can teach abstinence, absolutely, but at the same time, you should teach people about protecting themselves. I don't think one has to negate the other.
Cameron recognizes that standing up for HIV/AIDS-prevention and sex ed is a more controversial issue than what most Miss Americas advocate, but that hasn't deterred her:

[W]hen I was competing in Virginia, people were like, "You're never going to win. You're too controversial. It's not going to happen." But I think it's important for us to be frank with one another because beating around the bush obviously hasn't worked.

No, it hasn't. 

Kudos to Caressa Cameron for using her position as Miss America to speak out for teens' health and safety. You can get updates on Cameron's work on Twitter and her blog

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Update from the Sunflower State


Some cheers and jeers out of Kansas today. 

First the cheers: 

Women in Wichita will once again have access to abortion care in their city. A reproductive-health clinic has confirmed that two doctors will begin to provide abortion care in Wichita sometime in mid-2011. This city of more than 300,000 has been without an abortion provider since Dr. George Tiller was murdered inside his church on May 31, 2009.

And now for the jeers:

A member of the Kansas state board of education is trying to cut off funds for a conference on HIV/AIDS. Why? Because the conference supports medically accurate sex education for teens, instead of "abstinence-only."

Luckily, other board members are standing up for teens' health and safety. Board member Walt Chappell of Wichita said that young people "are protected best, in my opinion, if they have knowledge."

Kudos to Chappell for making sure that, when it comes to sex ed, everything's up-to-date in Kansas!  

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Sex-Ed Programs Get "Incomplete" Grade


If a sex-education class doesn't mention birth control, is it really sex ed? That's kind of like a math class that doesn't mention numbers. 

According to a new government report, only about two-thirds of American teens have been taught about birth-control methods in their sex-ed classes.  Here's more from USA Today

About 97% of teens said they received formal sex education by the time they were 18. Formal sex education was defined in the report as instruction at a school, church, community center or other setting teaching them how to say no to sex or about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases.

Lessons about saying no and STDs were more common than instruction on how to use a condom or other birth control, the study found.

Overall, about two-thirds of teens got birth control instruction by the end of high school -- about 62% of boys and 70% of girls.


The study blames "abstinence-only" programs for the decline in birth-control education. There is some good news, though: since the study was conducted, there has been an increase in federal funding for real, comprehensive sex ed. Like the kind that talks about birth control.

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Two Governors Say No to Preventing Teen Pregnancy


This morning's news includes reports of how two states' respective anti-choice governors are saying no to federal funds for comprehensive teen-pregnancy-prevention programs. You know, the kind of programs that teach teens about abstinence and contraception. These efforts help young people prevent unintended pregnancy and avoid sexually transmitted diseases. Would anyone really say no to such commonsense policies? 

 We are outraged Gov. Tim Pawlenty is willing to continue to play games with the lives of Minnesota youth...  During a time of tremendous budgetary challenges for our state, the governor has once again shown that he will put political games ahead of sound policy recommendations. 

Given how politicians are behaving in Virginia, we must admit that Gov. Bob McDonnell's decision is not surprising, even though NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and its allies gave him many compelling reasons to do the right thing. However, it's still disappointing that Gov. McDonnell, like Gov. Pawlenty in Minnesota, put a political agenda before teens' health. It's also worth noting that Virginia's previous governor declined "abstinence-only" funds in the past because the programs were such a failure. This is really a step backward for teens in Virginia.  

Teen-pregnancy prevention and accurate sex education are not controversial topics. The public supports this evidence-based approach. In fact, a newspaper in Gov. McDonnell's state just released findings from a survey that shows 80 percent of parents in Roanoke support comprehensive sex education.  

If you're feeling ambitious and want to learn more about this topic, we've got the fact sheets and more for you. Or, if you'd like a primer on how to talk about this topic with friends, visit our Talk About Choice section. 

Before the weekend comes, and the pending SCOTUS-palooza takes hold, I wanted to take advantage of the calm before the storm and keep you up-to-date with that latest goings on in the states. There's so much wackiness, craziness, and drama, all of which puts the health of women at risk. So much so, that the Center for American Progress Action Fund dedicated an entire Progress Report to the abortion wars stateside.

BTW - Fake bonus points and a virtual high-five will be rewarded to the first person who figures out the reason behind the ordering of the states in the update.

Florida: The Florida Legislature used all kinds of legislative shenanigans to pass an anti-choice bill, and it's now up to Gov. Charlie Crist to sign or veto it. Yep - that Gov. Crist. Naturally, Rep. Kendrick Meek and other pro-choice Florida state lawmakers encouraged Crist to veto the bill that basically trades women's dignity and privacy for a cheap election-year victory. We are mobilizing thousands of our supporters in the Sunshine State, so please take a moment to help us by sharing this news with your friends in Florida to help spread the word about why this bill is so bad for women.

Pro-Choice Progress in Pennsylvania: Looking for a sign of pro-choice progress? Who isn't? There's a bill moving forward in Pennsylvania that would ensure all public schools teach comprehensive sex education that is age-appropriate and medically accurate.

Tennessee Can't Catch a Break: We're sad to report that, in addition to the horrific and devastating flooding going on in Nashville and surrounding areas, politicians have made this week even worse by taking away choices from women. This week, Tennessee became the second state to ban insurance coverage of abortion in the exchange that will be established under the new health-reform law. The law prohibits abortion coverage even in cases of life endangerment, rape, and incest. We're outraged by this unfortunate news, how about you?

Mighty Missouri: At least there's some great news coming from Missouri. The anti-choicers failed to get a so-called "personhood" measure on the November ballot. Our colleagues at NARAL Pro Choice Missouri worked hard to fight this:

Clearly, "personhood" provisions are much too extreme for Missourians. Voters in Missouri value privacy and each person's ability to make their own health decisions. Anti-choice tactics like this one would make drastic, unnecessary changes to current law. Pro-choice and pro-privacy Missourians wisely rejected this proposal and will do it again should any more outrageous attacks on women's health surface.

A huge round of applause goes out to our friends at NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri and their allies.

Oklahoma, Okay... Sorta: Oklahoma women caught a break this week... at least for now. A new anti-choice law is on hold pending the results of legal challenges in the courts. This is good news, because it sounds like the law was really traumatic for some women. Check out this article to learn more.

The Drama Continues in Kansas: Last week, anti-choice forces in the House fell two votes short of reversing the governor's veto of an anti-choice bill. As we all know, a lot can change over a weekend - and it did. The House voted again, and this time they managed to overturn the veto. The bill then went to the Kansas Senate, where the veto override failed by one vote. Stay tuned for more Sunflower-State drama, and check out this article for more info.

Montana Columnist Says What??: Yesterday, a really, really egregious opinion ran in the Helena Independent Record. In it, columnist Randy Rickman basically says that the recent anti-choice bill from Oklahoma (see above) is a good thing. Just how bad? Well, read this excerpt:

Will understanding the full impact of an abortion, up front, mean there will be more consultation and soul searching before making a decision? Probably so. And if that decision is made only after evaluating all the information, won't that be a better decision?

Look - we know that women accessing abortion care have thought about their decision. They have the thoughtfulness and the intelligence to make private medical decisions without a state-mandated script or a viewing of an ultrasound against their will. So clearly, this bill serves no other purpose than to shame and demean women for making a decision that some lawmakers in Oklahoma would like to take away from women altogether. It is not about informing women of their options. The law's intent is to intimidate women from exercising their right to choose while questioning their decision-making. NARAL Pro-Choice Montana is on the case, and is working on responding via letters and other options, like Twitter and Facebook.

That's all for this week. Rest up, pro-choice nation. Something tells me that next week will be a doozy!

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October is Sex Education Action Month!


I just saw this video and you have got to check it out!

Seriously? "When you use a condom, it's like you're playing Russian roulette?" If you want to have sex before marriage you "have to be prepared to die, and you'll probably take with you your spouse and one or more of your children?!" Wow... Those are some outlandish statements!

The video is from an "abstinence-only" program. These ideologically-driven programs teach teens about abstinence but withhold life-saving information about birth control, or lie about birth control's effectiveness. Thanks to former President Bush and his friends, students are being told these lies in public schools, and taxpayers are paying for it!

Fortunately, with a pro-choice president and pro-choice leadership in Congress, funding for "abstinence-only" programs has been going the way of the dodo. Of course, anti-choice members of Congress are trying to reinstate funding for "abstinence-only" programs into the health-care reform bill, and no doubt they'll try this in other bills, too.

This is where you come in: There's already a bill in Congress called The REAL Act, which would get age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education into our classrooms. In other words, it will give students all the information they need to make the best decisions for themselves. Tell your member of Congress to support the REAL Act.

October is Sex Education Action month, and there are only a few days left, so take action now!

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Sex-Ed Book Love: It's Perfectly Normal


Throughout the month of October, NARAL Pro-Choice America, along with Advocates for Youth, Choice USA, Law Students for Reproductive Justice, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, SIECUS, Sierra Club, and Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom has been encouraging young people and their allies across the United States to show their support for comprehensive sex education.

Remember when we wrote about the Breastival? That was definitely a part of our comprehensive sex-education advocacy work. Good times, great fun. Check the video and petition our coalition put forth for more information.

Well, in this month of increased focus on sex education, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the 15th anniversary edition of It's Perfectly Normal: a must-read book!


One of the authors, Robie H. Harris, had this to say about the newly updated edition:

This fifteenth anniversary edition of It's Perfectly Normal is completely updated, along with a brand new chapter on staying healthy and safe on the Internet. I update this book each and every time we go back to reprint, which is often, but this is the first time that we have added a new and much needed chapter. I had thought this new chapter would be easy to write, since I have been working with this material for so long. But just as the other parts of this book were difficult and complicated to write, so was this chapter. As in the past, I spoke with experts and kids, who of course had the best advice. I am pleased with the way it turned out, and so far, when speaking or being interviewed, so many are so relieved that this topic, the Internet is now in this book. And in many, but not all ways, it is linked to kids staying healthy, sexually healthy, which is the ultimate goal of It's Perfectly Normal --keeping our pre-teens and teens healthy. The other important update, even though all the updates matter including the updates of contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, is the inclusion of the HPV vaccine.

So, how can you get this updated version of a great book? Checkout your local independent bookstore or, even if you have an earlier edition, because the new edition has a brand-new chapter focusing on safe Internet use - one of parents' key, 21st century concerns.

Do you own a copy of this book? Did you read it on your own? Did your parents read it to you? Did you buy it for your household? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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State Legislatures and Choice


The actions of state legislators around the country have some of the biggest effects on women's access to safe reproductive health care.

In the Albany Times Union, NARAL Pro-Choice New York President Kelli Conlin explains how political actions that seem completely unrelated to choice--like the chaos in the New York State Senate--can have a devastating effect. New York had been close to passing the Reproductive Rights Act:

 "While you saw two men cross the aisle, I sat in the New York Senate chamber and saw three years of hard work and real coalition-building in the service of women's health go up in smoke. While you watched the lights go out in the Senate chamber, I watched the state go dark on reproductive rights."

If you live in New York, you can still take action. Tell your senators that they should still support the Reproductive Rights Act.


On the other side of the country, Arizona legislators are considering bills with a number of anti-choice provisions. In this op-ed from The Arizona Republic, an Arizona native shares a personal story and calls on lawmakers to take a difference approach:

"Shouldn't we be focused on reducing the number of unintended pregnancies instead of judging women who make the painful decision to terminate them? All of these factors in the proposed bills simply will add up to more pregnant women who cannot obtain reliable medical care.

Reducing the number of abortions in Arizona must start with honest sex education, access to contraception and comprehensive prenatal care. That would be a bill I could enthusiastically support.

In 2012, the state of Arizona will celebrate its 100th birthday. Do we want our centennial to be recognition of how far we've come in providing medical care to all Arizonans, or a sad realization of how far we have yet to go?"

Contact NARAL Pro-Choice Arizona for more information on the bills and to find out what you can do.

100 days: A Pro-Choice Primer


As we countdown to the first 100 days of the Obama administration, NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan weighs in with her "Pro-Choice Primer." Here's a snippet:

Wednesday, April 29 marks the 100th day of President Barack Obama's administration.

As the political leader of the pro-choice movement, NARAL Pro-Choice America will mark this milestone as yet another reminder of how electing leaders who support the fundamental American values of freedom and privacy does make a difference in the lives of women and their families.

President Obama is leading our country during an especially challenging time and many of our family and friends will discuss what's happened during his first 100 days on a number of fronts. When the topic turns to women's reproductive freedom and choice, we want you to be prepared to share the following signs of change...

To read a full-list of President Obama's full-list of pro-choice actions in the first 100 days, read the full post... and don't be shy! Leave us some comment-love so we know what you're thinking.

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina has made great strides in their effort to bring comprehensive sex education to teens in North Carolina. Last week, the commonsense legislation passed the House and now it moves on to the Senate. The affiliate's executive director, Sean Kosofsky, has a great post up on RH Reality Check explaining a bit more about the legislation:

It has been quite a year for North Carolina. The state voted for Barack Obama, defeated Elizabeth Dole, and elected the first female governor (who happens to also be pro-choice). But the changes don't just stop there. With changing demographics in our state and a clarion call for sanity from Washington, comprehensive sex education could just be just around the corner.

Be sure to check it out.

Great news for pro-choice Americans from the Senate this week.

First, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) offered an amendment to a national-service bill that would have made anti-choice "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs) explicitly eligible for federal funding for the first time ever. Federal funding for fake clinics that deceive and intimidate vulnerable women? Good thing the Senate said, "No way!" As NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan said, "It would have been wrong for the Senate to legitimize these practices in any way."

Then, during debate in the Budget Committee, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) proposed an amendment that would have taken the first step toward extending the Title V "abstinence-only" program for five more years! Seriously? The last budget cut funding for these failed programs, and President Obama has called for decision-making based on facts, not ideology. That means getting age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education programs into our schools. Bravo to the pro-choice senators on the Budget Committee for stopping this bad idea.

Getting REAL about sex education


On Tuesday, I had the awesome opportunity to go to The Hill for a press conference for the reintroduction of the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act.

  one for blog for choice.jpgAs I'm sure you know, the REAL Act would fund honest, realistic sex education for young people in public schools around the country. From NARAL Pro-Choice America's press release:

This year, in a departure from years past, Congress heeded the public's call for a focus on commonsense solutions to prevent unintended pregnancies and to cut funding for failed "abstinence-only" programs of the Bush era by $14 million.

Currently, states and localities can only receive federal funding if they agree to teach "abstinence-only" programs in their schools. That means teachers must censor information about the health benefits of contraception. Under the REAL Act, states could apply for federal funding to teach honest and age appropriate sex-education classes in their schools.

For the first time in NARAL history, I tweeted a press conference, the results of which can be found on our twitter page. Here are some of the updates:

Which states rejected "ab-only" funding? AK AZ CA CO CT DE ID IA KS ME MA MN MT NJ NM NY OH PA RI VT VA WA DC WI WY
8:50 AM Mar 17th from Tweetburner

Wow! That was great! Sen. Lautenberg and Rep. Barbara Lee are awesome advocates for commonsense measures that reduce the need for abortion!
8:31 AM Mar 17th from TwitterBerry

@LizScherer not sure if she's on twitter, but that's the one! D-CA
8:26 AM Mar 17th from TwitterBerry

Rep. Lee just spoke about how her state, Calif, rejected fed funds bc they must be used for "ab-only" ed. Visit 4 othrs
8:24 AM Mar 17th from TwitterBerry

w00t! We just got a shout out from Rep. Lee at the REAL Act press conference!
8:19 AM Mar 17th from TwitterBerry

V. Cool. A NARAL staffer from NJ is standing behind her hometown senator as he introduces this important legislation. She's psyched!
8:17 AM Mar 17th from TwitterBerry

"When resources are scarce, we must ask, what have we gotten from this investment?" Sen. Lautenberg on the years of "ab-only" funding.
8:14 AM Mar 17th from TwitterBerry

If you were checking out the tweets, I'd love to know what you thought!

Anyway, it was an all around exciting day, and we're so thankful for Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Lee (D-CA) for their leadership on this. Shelby Knox wrote about her experience for RH Reality Check, likening it to "watching a dream come true, for real!" saying:

My school district had a strict abstinence-only-until-marriage policy - and some of the highest rates of STI's and unwanted pregnancy in the nation. Not only did we skip the anatomy portion of biology in deference to the ab-only policy, our "sex education" didn't start until high school - FAR too late to do us much good. During freshman year we were herded into the auditorium to listen to a lecture from a local pastor on 'Love, Sex, and Dating.'

As the culmination of every presentation, the pastor pulled a girl up onstage, produced a dirty, dingy toothbrush from his pocket and asked if she would brush her teeth with it. When she invariably said no, he pulled out another toothbrush, this one in its original box, and repeated the question. When she said she said yes to that one, he brandished the rejected toothbrush above his head and announced to the audience, "If you have sex before marriage, you are the dirty toothbrush."

While this sounds extreme (and bizarre), abstinence-only-until-marriage programs commonly use degrading scare tactics like these, provide misinformation about condoms and contraception, forward generalizations about sexuality that are based on biases about gender and sexual orientation, and, as in my high school, contain religious messaging that violates the U.S. Constitution.

Honest, realistic sex-education has long been a priority for NARAL Pro-Choice America so please join us and urge Congress to make sex education a priority!

What do these two headlines have in common?

Obama Aims to Shield Science From Politics

Obama moves to strengthen role of science in policy

The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other news outlets have been covering this "wild-and-crazy" phenomenon of the Obama administration keeping ideology out of science and public health. I know it doesn't sound "wild-and-crazy" at face value, but given the last eight years, it's a relatively new occurrence for a president. NARAL Pro-Choice America has an outstanding document that, um, documents President Bush's pattern of putting his anti-choice political ideology into science:

Since his first months in office, President Bush and his administration have politicized public health and subverted science in favor of an ideological agenda on a range of health issues. President Bush has used all the powers of his presidency to obstruct scientific research, censor factual medical information, and stack scientific advisory committees with right‐wing ideologues.

Medical evidence, not politics, should form the underpinnings of scientific and public-health-related policies. Scientific credentials, not ideology, should govern appointments to scientific advisory committees. The Bush administration's history of censorship, misleading statements, unabashed scientific revisionism, and targeted intrusions into scientific decision‐making processes casts doubt on the credibility of American science and compromises our ability to understand, prevent, and treat diseases. The growing influence of ideology on science is cause for grave concern. Simply put: the Bush administration is playing politics with people's health.

Well, thank goodness those years are over, right?

The Obama administration has indicated their desire to put the science back in... science. Melody C. Barnes, director of Obama's Domestic Policy Council, told the Washington Post:

The president believes that it's particularly important to sign this memorandum so that we can put science and technology back at the heart of pursuing a broad range of national goals.

I hope that this as a sign that other medically-accurate programs such as comprehensive sex education will finally replace the dangerous and disproven "abstinence-only" programs that President Bush and his anti-choice allies were so fond of funding? I'm being quite optimistic right now, but check out what happened last night regarding "abstinence-only" programs. 

Off to the Races: Shaheen in her own words


This is an article from last Thursday, but it was an interesting read, so I wanted to share it with you today... you know, in honor of Shaheen week here at NARAL Pro-Choice America.

The Nashua Telegraph, in an article on female candidates in political races, reported on Shaheen's race:

Meanwhile, in the other major party, former Democratic Gov. Jeanne Shaheen seeks to become the first New Hampshire woman elected to the Senate, and U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat, hopes to be the first female congressional incumbent from this state to survive re-election Nov. 4.Shaheen skipped Horn's own feat but remarked on the milestones of 2008 Wednesday, topped by Barack Obama seeking to become the first African-American elected President.

"Throughout this election cycle, there has been a lot of talk about history," Shaheen said leaving out her other distinction as the first woman elected New Ham[p]shire governor in 1996.

"But while this race may be historic, make no mistake, it's about the future. It is about a very clear choice: Do we like the way things are going now, or do we need a new direction?''

Read the whole article here.

In a related note, I have been playing "catch up" since I got back from the Democratic National Convention (I know, I know), and in a stroke of coincidence, I came across this interview with Gov. Shaheen:


If you scroll ahead to 1:24, you can hear Gov. Shaheen speak about women's reproductive health... in her own words.

Good stuff.

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