Roundup: Compulsory Sex Education, GOP Ballot Initiative Strategy

Brady Swenson

Independent council in UK recommends compulsory comprehensive sex education, GOP attempts to lure conservatives to polls with ballot initiatives, 49% of IVF treatments result in multiple births, Ashley Judd discovers importance of family planning in Africa.

Sex Education ‘Must Be Compulsory In Schools’ … The UK’s Independent
Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV is set to recommend to Parliament that comprehensive sex education be required for all students. Britain’s teens suffer from rising rates of STI infection and have seen rises in unwanted teen pregnancies as well:

Earlier this month the Health Protection Agency warned that risky sex among
teenagers and twenty-somethings was driving up rates of STIs.

Overall the number of infections rose 6 per cent in 2007 over the previous
year, from 375,843 cases to 397,990 and half of all newly diagnosed
infections were in 16 to 24-year-olds.

Britain also currently has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in
Western Europe.

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The council is suggesting relationships education to teach students about the psychological and emotional impacts of sexual relationships to go along with information about safe sex and encouragement to stay abstinent as long as possible.

GOP Employing Rove Ballot Initiative Strategy … The GOP is hoping to bring conservative voters to the polls in key states with ballot initiatives that conservatives are often passionate about. The strategy, formulated by Karl Rove, helped George W. Bush win key states in the 2004 election. This November voters in California will vote again on parental notification for abortion, Colorado voters will decide whether or not to legally define the beginning of life at conception and South Dakota voters will vote on an abortion ban proposal.

49% of IVF Patients Have Multiple Births … During IVF treatments doctors often implant two or three fertilized embryos in an effort to increase the chances that at least one embry will implant. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology says that 49% of IVF treatments result inthe birth of twins or triplets.

Ashley Judd Learns First Hand About Importance of Family Planning … Actress Ashley Judd is an ambassador for YouthAIDS and in May of this year visited Rawanda. There she met Therese and Victor, a couple who has recently benefited greatly from contraception and family planning services but not before Therese suffered through several painful self-induced herbal abortions. Judd tells the story of Therese and Victor in a diary entry from her trip.


Roundup: Rising STI Numbers May Be Good News

Robin Marty

There are a lot of cases of sexually transmitted diseases being reported, but maybe in the long run that's a good thing?

In Alaska, the state is coping with a multi-year gonorrhea epidemic, but health officials are finding a silver lining in all of the reported cases.

Via Anchorage Daily News:

“Hopefully, the high numbers now are more of a success story in that people are coming in and getting tested. Though I am surprised the numbers haven’t declined,” said Susan Jones, the state’s HIV/STD program manager. “It’s this continuing rise in numbers that we haven’t been able to get under control.”

Symptoms can be mild, which may delay people coming in for testing and treatment, allowing them to continue to spread the disease, health officials say.

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Back in the 1970s, a man with a gonorrhea infection would have experienced such painful burning and heavy discharge that he would have likely gone to the doctor within a week. Now, with the current, milder strain, he might not seek help for months.

The health consequences for untreated gonorrhea can be severe: People can become infertile, a result more common for women than for men, Jones said.

Health officials will contact sexual partners of infected people and urge them to get tested and treated, without saying how they may have been exposed.

“I like to say, ‘Care enough to get your partners identified and treated,'” Jones said.

Alaskan health officials aren’t the only ones to say that a rise in numbers may actually be a good thing.  U.S. health experts are also saying the rise in reported cases is a silver lining on a dark STI cloud.

A recent study released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that Chlamydia, a sexually transmitted infection caused by Chlamydia trachomatis has become the leading reported STD with Gonorrhea hitting the lowest rate as compared to the past years.

The CDC has also suggested that around 2.8 million Americans suffer annually from Chlamydia but even if the data collected showed a 19 % surge in the reported cases, the agency evaluates the reports as good news. This is because more individuals these days are  getting screened and tested.

Minnesota, however, isn’t nearly as positive about the reports of increased infections, especially the rise of chlamydia.  Echo Press reports:

According to the CDC’s latest report , U.S. rates of chlamydia and syphilis continue to rise, with an increase in chlamydia of 2.8 percent over the past year. Young women are most adversely affected, as women are nearly 3 times as likely as men to be diagnosed with chlamydia.

Unfortunately, many of the trends evidenced in the report are being seen right here in Minnesota. Sexually transmitted infections have climbed to historic levels, with chlamydia rates in the state more than doubling in the past thirteen years. In some communities of color, the situation is dire, as health care inequities have led to rates so high that the epidemic has become self-sustaining.

“This is an unconscionable public health failure. It’s time for solutions,” said PPMNS President and CEO Sarah Stoesz.

Whether you can see good news in the results or not, there is no denying that far too many in the U.S. are suffering from sexually transmitted infections that could be reduced with better education and more access to condoms.

Mini Roundup: Two very different stories of the New York City Council meeting on Crisis Pregnancy Center regulations.

November 26, 2010

November 25, 2010

Roundup: It’s Election Day! What’s At Stake?

Robin Marty

Today is the day to vote, so a short reminder of what's at stake for reproductive health and GLBT issues.

Think you know every important race for reproductive health happening today?  Well, it’s more than just Amendment 62 or control over the senate.  Here are some of the races anti-abortion factions are focusing in on as key to their cause, and some feedback from LGBT advocates on both sides of the aisle as to how they will be effected by the election.

The Washington Examiner has a list of top races to watch that could make or break the abortion status quo.

California Senate–Boxer, the champion of legal abortion: Boxer is a favorite of the pro-choice movement. She led the fight to keep partial-birth abortion legal. The fact that she’s in danger this year — in California — has pro-lifers giddy.

Washington Senate–Murray, the champion of government-funded abortions: Murray’s is second only to Boxer in defending abortion. Her “Murray Amendment” is an attempt to begin performing abortions on military bases. Much more than Boxer, Murray is vulnerable this year.

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Michael Bennet vs. Ken Buck in Colorado Senate race: Democrats have decided the way to beat conservative Republican Ken Buck in Colorado is to attack him as an extremist on abortion — he opposes it in all cases, even when the child was conceived through rape or incest. If he goes down in a tight race, abortion could be part of it.

Keith Fimian, pro-life Catholic in a socially moderate wealthy district: Rep. Gerry Connolly attacks Fimian for his no-exceptions pro-life stance. Fimian stands firm.

Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill.: Hare is an unapologetic pro-choice liberal in a strong Democratic district, but he could lose to pro-life businessman Bobby Schilling.

Obamacare votes by pro-life Dems or those who claim to be: Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.), Steve Driehaus (Ohio), and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) are pro-life Democrats voted in the end for ObamaCare, even though it contained abortion subsidies. This earned the ire of some pro-life groups, like the Susan B. Anthony List, which has spent money to try to defeat them. Sen. Harry Reid basically fits into this category, since he describes himself as pro-life.

And who would think that the race for Attorney General would make a huge difference in reproductive rights?  Well, that became more clear after Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli started pushing an anti-choice agenda. Now the anti-abortion groups have picked more AG races to concentrate on, in a chance to up the stakes.

“This is the most important election cycle ever for the issue of life,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “The lives of innocent children hang in the balance in many races across the nation where abortion.”
Two races that have thus far garnered little attention, but have enormous implications for the future of abortion nationwide are the races for Attorney General in Iowa and Kansas.
In Iowa, incumbent Tom Miller is being challenged by Republican Brenna Findley, an attorney and former Congressional chief of staff who is a dedicated pro-life supporter. Miller, a 32-year Democratic incumbent is a rabid supporter of abortion with strong ties to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPH).
Miller has actively worked to shield PPH from criminal investigation regarding their dangerous remote webcam abortion pill distribution scheme that denies women assess to physical examination by a licensed physician prior to an abortion, something that is considered a “standard of care” in nearly every state.
“The Miller-Findley race for Iowa Attorney General is critical because as long as Miller remains in office protecting his friends at Planned Parenthood, they will move forward with their plan to expand telemed webcam abortions into all fifty states. That would represent the largest expansion of abortion services since Roe v. Wade. The outcome of this race could literally affect nearly every community in the nation.”
Another pivotal election with national implications is the Kansas Attorney General’s race. Democratic incumbent Steve Six is an appointee of radical abortion promoter Kathleen Sebelius, who now serves as Obama’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Six is opposed by pro-life Republican Derek Schmidt.
Six is known for helping to gag evidence in a case where a Kansas Planned Parenthood has been charged with 107 criminal counts, including 23 felonies, for illegal late-term abortions and manufacturing evidence. His actions caused a needless two-year delay in the case. As long as Six remains in control of the Attorney General’s office, the prosecution of Planned Parenthood remains in jeopardy.
Since organizations must obey all laws to receive tax funding, a successful prosecution could endanger Planned Parenthood’s ability to receive tax dollars nationwide. Taxpayer funds are what keep Planned Parenthood afloat. Defunding could cause the collapse of the abortion giant.
“These two attorney general races could be game-changers in the abortion issue. They are literally life and death votes for the people of Iowa and Kansas that will affect every state,” said Newman. “Please join Operation Rescue in prayer over the next 24 hours for pro-life victories across the nation and especially in these two critical races.”

Interested in what the LGBT community thinks this election could bring for the movement?  Poligot has statements from both conservative and progressive LGBT organizations on what they think could be the fallout come November 3rd.

R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans:

Log Cabin Republicans are expecting sweeping wins for our party on Tuesday, especially in the House of Representatives. From coast-to-coast, our members are currently coordinating with the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee (NRCC) on races of note for us, such as phone banking for Charles Djou in Hawaii or in person canvasing for Nan Hayworth in New York.

Like many voters, Log Cabin Republicans are primarily focused on the state of the economy, market growth for employment and reduction of government spending. As to Republican lead legislation in 112th Congress benefiting the gay community, we can expect the new majority leadership to include tax equity as their initial pro-equality measure. A better economy and job growth is beneficial to all Americans regardless of one’s sexual orientation.

Michael Cole, press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign:

When anti-equality forces controlled Congress for a decade (1994-2005), they stymied any progress on LGBT issues and made attacks on our community part of their governing agenda. Among their efforts were attempts to: pass a federal marriage amendment; strip courts of jurisdiction to hear LGBT rights claims; block DC’s domestic partner benefits and needle exchange programs; cut HIV/AIDS funding; increase failed abstinence-only programs; and block openly LGBT appointees. A Congress controlled by anti-equality Republican leaders could very well return to this playbook, and even go further by cutting Justice Department funds for enforcement of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act or trying to roll back Obama administration advances for LGBT people, like benefits for the partners of Foreign Service officers or hospital visitation protections. 

Under a Republican Congress, key positions that control the fate of pro-LGBT legislation would be held by notorious anti-equality legislators. Potential House leaders Reps. John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Mike Pence have consistently scored a perfect zero since they came to Congress. Other leadership positions are critical as well.

Christopher Barron, chairman of the board of GOProud:

If Republicans govern as true conservatives and stay focused on the issues that got them elected then I believe life will be better for average LGBT Americans. A conservative majority in the House could and should push for social security reforms, healthcare reforms, tax reforms and other pieces of legislation that will improve the lives of LGBT people in this country.

If, however, Republicans do not govern as conservatives — if they forget why they are getting elected, then we will hold them as accountable as we have held Nancy Pelosi and the big government crowd of liberals running Congress now. Let’s be honest though, the bar for success for LGBT Americans has been set fairly low after four years of Democratic control that has produced lots of partisan rhetoric and very little in the way of tangible results.

Michael Mitchell, executive director of Stonewall Democrats:

It’s not just Rep. John Boehner I’m concerned about; it’s all the other Republicans that will be heading up committees. If our community thought it was hard to get LGBT legislation to a floor vote the last two years, I guarantee it will be much, much harder under the GOP, especially with extreme Tea Party members running some of the committees.

As one example, I’m very concerned what will happen in the committee that handles appropriations for the District of Columbia. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-3), the ranking Republican on that committee and likely committee chair if the GOP takes the House, is a vociferous opponent of marriage equality and is certain to do whatever he can to overturn marriage for same-sex couples in the nation’s capital.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

Life will change for all Americans, including LGBT Americans, under this scenario. You can expect even greater gridlock on the Hill, meaning tougher challenges moving legislation, including LGBT rights legislation. We’ve all been frustrated with Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats dragging their feet on advancing equality for LGBT people. But, John Boehner is no Nancy Pelosi.

So, yes, it will be worse. Many people already view government as dysfunction on steroids. More political tug-o-war is bound to feed that sentiment even further. Also, divisiveness can lead to inaction. Is this good for America? We don’t think so.

Robin McGehee, executive director, and Heather Cronk, managing director, of Get Equal:

Life for LGBT Americans should have changed the day that Barack Obama was sworn in. On the whole, it has not. With the Obama Administration continuing to defend “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Defense of Marriage Act in the courts, we are still hunting for our fierce advocate and still living under the veil of discrimination. Obviously, if we lose the historic majority that we have enjoyed.

We will certainly not find fierce advocacy in a Speaker Boehner, so we will be forced to continue looking for a fierce advocate in President Obama. We hope that, should the White House lose its double-majority in the legislature, Election Day will be a wake-up call to act on behalf of LGBT Americans with the passion promised to us during the 2008 campaign. The targets will change, because power will shift, but our equality is a bi-partisan issue and all those who control our injustice should be held accountable, today and after this important election.

Mini Roundup: Based on all of   the   excitement, I think maybe next cycle people should run on a “Free Birthcontrol For Everyone!” platform.

November 2, 2010

November 1, 2010