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Collins: Many State Lawmakers 'Legislating Fiction' With Bills Targeting Reproductive Health

Collins: Many State Lawmakers 'Legislating Fiction' With Bills Targeting Reproductive Health

April 6, 2015 — The "business of legislating fiction" by state lawmakers passing ineffective or medically unsound bills that target reproductive health "is rather widespread," New York Times columnist Gail Collins writes.

For example, Collins notes that the Texas House on Tuesday voted "to take $3 million earmarked for prevention of H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases, and spend it instead on abstinence-only sex education." According to Collins, the bill was passed even though its sponsor, state Rep. Stuart Spitzer (R), said he based the measure on his personal experience and has "admit[ted] that abstinence-only education 'may not be working well.'"

Collins argues that, to combat such measures, supporters of comprehensive sexuality education should continue "pointing out that Texas gets more federal money for abstinence-only sex education than any other state, and that Texas has a teen birthrate that is almost twice as high as California's, which has completely barred schools from limiting their courses on sex to the advisability of not having any."

Collins cites several other instances of lawmakers approving medically unsound bills, such as how Arizona lawmakers recently passed "a bill [SB 1318] that requires doctors who perform [medication] abortions to tell their patients that the procedure may be reversible, even though most scientists say it isn't."

Similarly, Collins notes that 12 states require women seeking abortions "to be informed that a 20-week-old fetus can feel pain, research to the contrary notwithstanding," and that four states require physicians to give women "inaccurate portrayals of the effects of an abortion on future fertility," according to the Guttmacher Institute. Meanwhile, five states require doctors to tell women the "fiction[al]" claim that "abortions are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer" (Collins, New York Times, 4/3).