With State Approval, Nurses Un-Educated on Contraception

Amanda Marcotte

A continuing education program for nurses in California indoctrinates providers with anti-contraception ideology -- part of the larger project to stock health care professions with anti-choicers who hide behind religion to refuse health care.

From PZ Myers’ blog
Pharyngula,
I learned some jaw-dropping
news.
California
is allowing nurses to get 4.6 hours of continuing education credit by
un
-educating themselves on one of the most common forms of health
care required by women in this country: contraception. The news
that California allows nurses to get credit hours by getting indoctrinated
with anti-contraception propaganda seemed too unbelievable to me, but
the blogger Zeno did his research, and sure enough it really is true.

Unlike other, more
subtle attempts at indoctrination,

the organizers of this conference don’t even make an effort at seeming
less loony than they are. The conference is called "Humanae
Vitae: Cornerstone of the Culture of Life" — so you know that it’s
not going to be the event where you learn basic medical realities, including that it’s not healthy for women to be pregnant most of their adult
lives. Or that having one baby after another isn’t the best way
to produce healthy babies, either.

But digging in even deeper
into the program for the conference raises the levels of alarm from
annoyed to angry to steaming. The first speaker was scheduled to
give a talk on one of the strangest anti-choice superstitious ideas,
which is that contraception causes
abortion. "But wait," say people who understand the relationship
between cause and effect, "Are they performing abortions on women
who aren’t pregnant nowadays? Because from where I sit, contraception
prevents the cause of upwards of 95% of abortions, which is unintended
pregnancy." But that’s the sort of rational thinking that
leads one directly down the pro-choice path, so the anti-choice
community discourages it.

Actually, the "logic,"
if you’d want to call it that, behind the idea that contraception
leads to abortion is that the invention of contraception made people
think they could have sex for fun, and that poisonous notion–that sex is playtime,
instead of a grim duty barely tolerated for the holy purpose of procreation–is
why people find themselves getting pregnant without wanting to be. If you believe people didn’t enjoy sex before the 1960s,
it makes a strange sort of sense. But unfortunately for anti-contraception extremists, the evidence is
in, and yes, contraception reduces unintended pregnancy rates.

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Torturing yourself by reading
anti-choice lies is a peculiar past time, and I don’t recommend it
for everyone. Out of all the nonsense on this program, I found
myself personally offended by the NGOs who promote
contraception don’t care about women.

You hear this claim a lot from anti-choicers–that pro-choice activists
are trying to hoodwink women into not being pregnant. The idea that
women as a rule would be able to enjoy non-stop pregnancy if our wee
little lady brains weren’t confused by all that big, scary feminism
insults me as an activist, a woman, and a feminist.

But the real question here
isn’t why anti-choicers lie and deceive like this, but why the state
of California just rolled over and let the California Catholic Women’s
Forum get this approved as continuing education. I can’t help
but think that the choice to apply for continuing education credits
for this seminar is part of the larger anti-choice project to deprive
women of health care by stocking the health care professions with anti-choice
loonies who refuse to provide care and hide behind religion to do it.
"Right of refusal" laws are popping up in various states, and since, god willing, we’ll join the rest of the industrialized world by providing universal health care in the next few years, there’s a strong possibility that anti-choice health care
workers will be getting some forms of government money to discriminate
against women. Perhaps the anti-choice movement is lending more
attention to "right to refuse" legislation and training of anti-choice
health care workers in anticipation of universal health care.

It’s tempting to think that
getting universal health care will be an opportunity to kick back and
celebrate, but it looks instead like it’s going to be the beginning
of a fight between anti- and pro-choicers on whether or not women will
be included in the word "universal"–in other words, whether or not women will
receive second rate health care that doesn’t include coverage for
contraception or even abortion. We already have the Hyde Amendment,
a piece of legislation so secure that even pro-choice politicians will
vote to renew it.

And make no mistake, anti-choicer
will reach for every card they can to deny women coverage. Already
you’re seeing temper tantrums from the religious right over whether
or not faith-based programs that receive government funding should be
held to the same anti-discrimination standards as secular organizations.
Because they wave their hands around and talk about Jesus, they want
a special right to refuse to employ people based on sexual orientation.
If government money starts to flow to religious health care organization,
we’re going to see the same argument–that religious groups have a special
right that secular groups don’t have to discriminate against women.

Is it possible for anti-choicers
to infiltrate the ranks of health care workers to the extent that they
severely limit some women’s ability to get contraceptive health care?
Not in big cities, probably not, but it’s easy to see how the "right
to refuse" can quickly become a mandate to refuse for pharmacists
and other health care workers who face social disapproval for providing
contraception in conservative small towns. And it’s not feasible
for every woman who wants to use contraception at some point in her
life to move to a big city. If so, we’d be seeing 98% of women living
in the cities.

News Sexual Health

State with Nation’s Highest Chlamydia Rate Enacts New Restrictions on Sex Ed

Nicole Knight Shine

By requiring sexual education instructors to be certified teachers, the Alaska legislature is targeting Planned Parenthood, which is the largest nonprofit provider of such educational services in the state.

Alaska is imposing a new hurdle on comprehensive sexual health education with a law restricting schools to only hiring certificated school teachers to teach or supervise sex ed classes.

The broad and controversial education bill, HB 156, became law Thursday night without the signature of Gov. Bill Walker, a former Republican who switched his party affiliation to Independent in 2014. HB 156 requires school boards to vet and approve sex ed materials and instructors, making sex ed the “most scrutinized subject in the state,” according to reproductive health advocates.

Republicans hold large majorities in both chambers of Alaska’s legislature.

Championing the restrictions was state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R-Wasilla), who called sexuality a “new concept” during a Senate Education Committee meeting in April. Dunleavy added the restrictions to HB 156 after the failure of an earlier measure that barred abortion providers—meaning Planned Parenthood—from teaching sex ed.

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Dunleavy has long targeted Planned Parenthood, the state’s largest nonprofit provider of sexual health education, calling its instruction “indoctrination.”

Meanwhile, advocates argue that evidence-based health education is sorely needed in a state that reported 787.5 cases of chlamydia per 100,000 people in 2014—the nation’s highest rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Surveillance Survey for that year.

Alaska’s teen pregnancy rate is higher than the national average.

The governor in a statement described his decision as a “very close call.”

“Given that this bill will have a broad and wide-ranging effect on education statewide, I have decided to allow HB 156 to become law without my signature,” Walker said.

Teachers, parents, and advocates had urged Walker to veto HB 156. Alaska’s 2016 Teacher of the Year, Amy Jo Meiners, took to Twitter following Walker’s announcement, writing, as reported by Juneau Empire, “This will cause such a burden on teachers [and] our partners in health education, including parents [and] health [professionals].”

An Anchorage parent and grandparent described her opposition to the bill in an op-ed, writing, “There is no doubt that HB 156 is designed to make it harder to access real sexual health education …. Although our state faces its largest budget crisis in history, certain members of the Legislature spent a lot of time worrying that teenagers are receiving information about their own bodies.”

Jessica Cler, Alaska public affairs manager with Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, called Walker’s decision a “crushing blow for comprehensive and medically accurate sexual health education” in a statement.

She added that Walker’s “lack of action today has put the education of thousands of teens in Alaska at risk. This is designed to do one thing: Block students from accessing the sex education they need on safe sex and healthy relationships.”

The law follows the 2016 Legislative Round-up released this week by advocacy group Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. The report found that 63 percent of bills this year sought to improve sex ed, but more than a quarter undermined student rights or the quality of instruction by various means, including “promoting misinformation and an anti-abortion agenda.”

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: ‘If You Don’t Vote … You Are Trifling’

Ally Boguhn

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party's convention.

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party’s convention.

DNC Chair Marcia Fudge: “If You Don’t Vote, You Are Ungrateful, You Are Lazy, and You Are Trifling”

The chair of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), criticized those who choose to sit out the election while speaking on the final day of the convention.

“If you want a decent education for your children, you had better vote,” Fudge told the party’s women’s caucus, which had convened to discuss what is at stake for women and reproductive health and rights this election season.

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“If you want to make sure that hungry children are fed, you had better vote,” said Fudge. “If you want to be sure that all the women who survive solely on Social Security will not go into poverty immediately, you had better vote.”

“And if you don’t vote, let me tell you something, there is no excuse for you. If you don’t vote, you don’t count,” she said.

“So as I leave, I’m just going to say this to you. You tell them I said it, and I’m not hesitant about it. If you don’t vote, you are ungrateful, you are lazy, and you are trifling.”

The congresswoman’s website notes that she represents a state where some legislators have “attempted to suppress voting by certain populations” by pushing voting restrictions that “hit vulnerable communities the hardest.”

Ohio has recently made headlines for enacting changes that would make it harder to vote, including rolling back the state’s early voting period and purging its voter rolls of those who have not voted for six years.

Fudge, however, has worked to expand access to voting by co-sponsoring the federal Voting Rights Amendment Act, which would restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act that were stripped by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder.

“Mothers of the Movement” Take the National Spotlight

In July 2015, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office released a statement that 28-year-old Sandra Bland had been found dead in her jail cell that morning due to “what appears to be self-asphyxiation.” Though police attempted to paint the death a suicide, Bland’s family has denied that she would have ended her own life given that she had just secured a new job and had not displayed any suicidal tendencies.

Bland’s death sparked national outcry from activists who demanded an investigation, and inspired the hashtag #SayHerName to draw attention to the deaths of Black women who died at the hands of police.

Tuesday night at the DNC, Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, and a group of other Black women who have lost children to gun violence, in police custody, or at the hands of police—the “Mothers of the Movement”—told the country why the deaths of their children should matter to voters. They offered their support to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a speech at the convention.

“One year ago yesterday, I lived the worst nightmare anyone could imagine. I watched as my daughter was lowered into the ground in a coffin,” said Geneva Reed-Veal.

“Six other women have died in custody that same month: Kindra Chapman, Alexis McGovern, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, Raynette Turner, Ralkina Jones, and Joyce Curnell. So many of our children are gone, but they are not forgotten,” she continued. 

“You don’t stop being a mom when your child dies,” said Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis. “His life ended the day that he was shot and killed for playing loud music. But my job as his mother didn’t.” 

McBath said that though she had lost her son, she continued to work to protect his legacy. “We’re going to keep telling our children’s stories and we’re urging you to say their names,” she said. “And we’re also going to keep using our voices and our votes to support leaders, like Hillary Clinton, who will help us protect one another so that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing.” 

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, called herself “an unwilling participant in this movement,” noting that she “would not have signed up for this, [nor would] any other mother that’s standing here with me today.” 

“But I am here today for my son, Trayvon Martin, who is in heaven, and … his brother, Jahvaris Fulton, who is still here on Earth,” Fulton said. “I did not want this spotlight. But I will do everything I can to focus some of this light on the pain of a path out of the darkness.”

What Else We’re Reading

Renee Bracey Sherman explained in Glamour why Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s position on abortion scares her.

NARAL’s Ilyse Hogue told Cosmopolitan why she shared her abortion story on stage at the DNC.

Lilly Workneh, the Huffington Post’s Black Voices senior editor, explained how the DNC was “powered by a bevy of remarkable black women.”

Rebecca Traister wrote about how Clinton’s historic nomination puts the Democratic nominee “one step closer to making the impossible possible.”

Rewire attended a Democrats for Life of America event while in Philadelphia for the convention and fact-checked the group’s executive director.

A woman may have finally clinched the nomination for a major political party, but Judith Warner in Politico Magazine took on whether the “glass ceiling” has really been cracked for women in politics.

With Clinton’s nomination, “Dozens of other women across the country, in interviews at their offices or alongside their children, also said they felt on the cusp of a major, collective step forward,” reported Jodi Kantor for the New York Times.

According to Philly.com, Philadelphia’s Maternity Care Coalition staffed “eight curtained breast-feeding stalls on site [at the DNC], complete with comfy chairs, side tables, and electrical outlets.” Republicans reportedly offered similar accommodations at their convention the week before.