May 5, 2015 — Read the week's best commentary from the Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress," Salon and more.
SEXUALITY EDUCATION: "Inside Federally-Funded Abstinence-Only Education: 'Flushing Taxpayer Dollars Down The Toilet,'" Tara Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress": "[N]ational controversy about what kind of information American kids are actually learning in their sex ed classes" broke after "Michigan resident Alice Dreger attended an abstinence-focused presentation at her son's high school, and live-tweeted the information that the students were hearing about how condoms are full of holes and sex is a component of a bad lifestyle," Culp-Ressler writes. However, she notes that "[o]n the very same week that Dreger successfully raised awareness about the harmful nature of abstinence education ... Congress quietly approved ... $25 million in additional funding for Title V, an 18-year-old federal program that doles out matching grants to states that agree to implement abstinence-only programs." According to Culp-Ressler, experts want the federal government to "eliminate ineffective 'abstinence only until marriage' programs" and instead "to invest solely in the comprehensive sex ed programs that have actually been scientifically proven to help kids delay sex and make healthy sexual decisions" (Culp-Ressler, "ThinkProgress," Center for American Progress, 5/4).
What others are saying about sexuality education:
~ "School That Teaches Abstinence Education Experiences Chlamydia Outbreak," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
~ "Sex Education or Sex Ignorance?" Gabrielle Van Tassel, Huffington Post blogs.
ABORTION PROVIDERS: "'When It Got to the Murders, I think I Was Surprised by That': An Abortion Provider's Story," David Cohen/Krysten Connon, Salon: In an excerpt from their book, "Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism," authors Cohen and Connon detail the threats and attacks that an abortion provider, Rodney Smith, has experienced through his more than two decades of work. According to Cohen and Connon, Smith's "first experience with targeted protest," which stemmed from "the regular large-scale protests outside of the clinic where he first worked as an abortion provider," involved protesters targeting his son's wedding. Later, in the early 1990's, Smith's house and barn were set on fire, causing Smith and his family to lose "everything they owned," including "[t]heir dog, cats, and seventeen horses." Cohen and Connon note that while the arsonist was never caught, the incident "strengthened [Smith's] resolve" to provide abortions as a full-time rather than part-time job. Despite enduring several more attacks and threats over the years, Smith says they only thing he would have done differently in his career would "have [been to] star[t] working in abortion" earlier to help serve patients in need of abortion services, Cohen and Connon write (Cohen/Connon, Salon, 5/2).
ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: "Think the 'Personhood' Issue Is Over? Think Again," Kathleen Turner, RH Reality Check: Despite the defeat of "personhood" measures in Colorado (Amendment 67) and North Dakota (Measure 1), opponents of abortion rights are pushing ahead with passing abortion restrictions that "eliminat[e] the right to choose not by fiat ... but by red tape," Turner writes. She says that efforts of "personhood" advocates have resulted in other abortion-rights opponents deceptively appearing "more 'moderate,' providing cover for more incremental abortion restrictions that make it much harder for women to access abortion," such as "TRAP laws and similar recent anti-choice measures [that] have already created drastic inequality by eliminating abortion access for far too many." Turner adds that "when those measures pass, 'personhood' advocates get closer to their goal: Without access to safe and legal abortion, a woman's right to choose is essentially meaningless" (Turner, RH Reality Check, 5/1).
What others are saying about abortion restrictions:
~ "Texas Lawmaker Introduces 'Coerced Abortion' Bill so Extreme That Even Her GOP Allies Are Running for the Hills," Jenny Kutner, Salon.
~ "Abortion Opponents Are Winning," Culp-Ressler, Center for American Progress' "ThinkProgress."
ABORTION PROTECTIONS: "This State Is Actually Protecting Reproductive Rights," Meredith Clark, Refinery29: "In the conversation around state regulations on women's reproductive rights, it's been almost all bad news in recent months, but there's one state that has quietly fought off attempts to reduce abortion access," Clark writes. Specifically, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) last week "vetoed three bills that would have restricted abortion access in the state," she notes. According to Clark, the vetoed measures (SB 349, HB 479, HB 587) "would have placed restrictions on private insurance coverage for abortions, forced doctors to use fetal anesthesia for abortions at 20 weeks (a practice based on medically inaccurate claims about fetal pain), and banned healthcare providers from using telemedicine for medication abortions, which helps women in rural states that have few abortion providers, like Montana." Clark writes, "The first months of 2015 have seen more than 300 attempts by legislators to restrict abortion access, including laws signed by governors in Arkansas and Arizona that require doctors to give women medically inaccurate information," adding that such "[a]ttacks ... only underscore the importance of Governor Bullock's moves in Montana" (Clark, Refinery29, 5/4).