Roundup: LA Times Says No on Prop 4, UK Makes Sex Ed Mandatory

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Roundup: LA Times Says No on Prop 4, UK Makes Sex Ed Mandatory

Brady Swenson

LA Times counters parental notification proponent's two central arguments; UK makes sex and relationship education mandatory in primary and secondary schools; British lawmakers leave Northern Ireland's women suffering; How the religious right drove Colin Powell to endorse Obama; Baptist minister says birth control is "murder."

Los Angeles Times Argues Against Proposition 4

California’s Proposition 4 would require parental notification before a minor could have an abortion is nearly identical to two previous versions that were defeated.  The Los Angeles Times does not endorse the proposition.  It notes that there are two new provisions that those arguing for the proposition are centering its campaign around and may explain why the proposition has a slight lead in the most recent Public Policy Institute of California poll, 46 to 44.  The first is that it will give those who justifiably fear telling their parents an ‘out’
by allowing them to notify another adult relative instead:

This would indeed give the measure more credence, if it were true. But
in order to use it, the girl would have to accuse her parents, in
writing, of child abuse, with the accusation to be forwarded to law
enforcement authorities. It’s the equivalent of telling girls they can
get an abortion by walking into a police station and having their
parents arrested.

Proponents also argue that the new law would protect girls from sexual predators, that informed parents would be able to pu a stop to sex crimes:

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But a study released in September by UC San Francisco
found that few girls have relationships with significantly older males
and that the percentage of those who do does not appear to change with
notification laws.

In fact, notification laws don’t achieve most
of the supposedly desired results, according to the report. A
comparison of Minnesota, which has a notification law, and Wisconsin,
which doesn’t, showed that girls who went to abortion clinics were just
about equally likely to tell a parent. Pregnancy rates do not fall in
states with notification laws; in some states, abortion rates fall but
teen birthrates rise, and many more girls report leaving the state for
an abortion.

The LA Times questions that the primary purpose of the proposition is to protect girls: 

Perhaps because they put off telling a parent, or go to court to avoid
doing so, girls in states with such laws are likelier to get an
abortion later, during the second trimester of pregnancy, which
increases the chance of complications. Clearly, protecting the health
and safety of girls isn’t the key consideration here. Proposition 4 is
a first step toward reversing hard-won and increasingly threatened
reproductive rights. Californians, with their strong record of
upholding such rights, should see through the ruses and vote no on
Proposition 4.


The UK Makes Sex Education Mandatory in All Schools

Sex education is to be made a compulsory part of the Britain’s national
in primary and secondary schools under government plans to
cut its high teen pregnancy rates and lower rates of sexually transmitted diseases:

A new personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum,
expected by 2010, will include compulsory sex and relationships
education as well as better advice warning children against drugs and

Children will learn about body parts and the fact that
animals reproduce from the age of five, puberty and intercourse from
the age of seven and contraception and abortion from the age of 11.

All schools, including faith-based schools, will be required to teach the curriculum:

Schools will not be allowed to opt out of the rules but the
government is promising separate guidance to faith schools, which could
find elements of the new curriculum at odds with their spiritual

The schools minister, Jim Knight, said they would
still have to teach the curriculum – which includes contraception,
abortion and homosexuality – but will separately be allowed to continue
to teach religious beliefs about sex.

Knight said he wanted all schools to teach children more about sex in
the context of relationships, including marriage and civil
partnerships, and to promote abstinence.

The schools minister, Jim Knight, the government official in charge of the new program said that it is important to present sex education within the context of healthy relationships and emotional management:

"We are not talking about five-year-old kids being taught sex. What
we’re talking about for key stage 1 is children knowing about
themselves, their differences, their friendships and how to manage
their feelings," he said.

Secondary schools have so far had to
teach the mechanics of sex in biology classes, but not in conjunction
with relationships and sexual health. The new lessons will be part of
wider lifestyle classes that will include drugs and alcohol.

UNICEF UK, a United Nations affiliated organization that focuses on education, has endorsed the move.  Alison Marshall, the organization’s director, said:

Young people have the right to know how to protect
their sexual health and it is essential that information is given in a
way that responds to young people’s needs and lives. Last year research
conducted by the UK Youth Parliament found that nationally 40% of young
people between the ages of 11 and 18 thought that their Sex and
Relationship Education was either poor or very poor.


British Lawmakers Park Abortion Issue, Leave Women in Northern Ireland Without Resolved Abortion Law

The law regulating abortion in Northern Ireland is murky at best.  Yesterday British lawmakers could have greatly clarified the law by voting to extend limited abortion rights under the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act to women in Northern Ireland, who have been exempted from the Abortion Act since its inception.  In a political move the MPs did not vote on the amendment to extend the Act to Northern Irelanders and now the legal authority to pass such legislation will ‘devolve’ to the murky legal waers of Northern Ireland’s Stormont Assembly.  Eamon McCann of the Belfast Telegraph has much more on the story. 


The Religion Right Helped Drive Powell Away from His Party

Sarah Palin appeared on right-wing social conservative James Dobson’s radio show yesterday and Max Blumenthal writes that Colin Powell’s "endorsement and Palin’s appearance on Dobson’s show are not entirely unconnected." 

Dobson has long been one of the banes of Powell’s political lifeand the right’s warm embrace of Palin is part of what drove Powell away from McCain.

When Powell endorsed Obama, he offered a litany of factors, from
Obama’s “transformational” potential to “steadiness.” But Powell, a
military man and self-described “Rockefeller Republican,” also declared
his disappointment with the “rightward shift” in the Republican Party.

Blumenthal takes a thorough look at the contentious history of these two men who represent opposite sides of their party.  He concludes with the final straw that broke Powell’s commitment to the GOP, the selection right-wing social conservative of Sarah Palin as McCain’s Vice Presidential nominee:

Powell might well have supported McCain’s bid for the presidency had
things turned out differently. McCain yearned to select his friend, the
turncoat Democrat, Senator Joseph Lieberman, as his running mate.
Lieberman, who shared Powell’s positions on domestic policy, would have
made the Republican ticket the most moderate since the pre-Goldwater
era. But opposition from the Christian rightespecially from Dobsonthreatened
a fight on the floor of the Republican convention, rendering the
Lieberman option impossible. And so McCain chose Sarah Palin.

Dobson was finally ready to complete his 180-degree reversal. “I am moving closer and closer to being able toI’ll say it now,” Dobson declared. “If I went into the polling booth today, I would pull the lever for John McCain.”

Powell cited it as a principal motivation for endorsing Obama. “It’s
not what the American people are looking for,” Powell said. “And the
party has moved even further to the right, and Governor Palin has
indicated a further rightward shift.”


The Secret Swift Boaters

The Daily Beast’s Big Fat Story today is entitled "Dirty Campaigning" and among the several attacks they list, one is Born Alive.  Once again we see the most egregious and regularly debunked anti-choice campaign tactics repudiated as "dirty campaigning."


Baptist Preacher Says Contraception is Murder

The FamilyPlanIt blog reports on grave misinformation spouted by a Baptist preacher earlier this month by Dr. Thomas White who said that asking birth control pills is "murder" and a "sin."  FamilyPlanIt corrects the record:

So, does using contraception mean that that you’ve committed murder? I don’t think so. The American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
don’t think so. Since they support access to contraception, I doubt
they would support access to murder. And, fortunately, at least one
other Baptist pastor, Dwight McKissic, of Cornerstone Baptist Church,
has been willing to speak out against White and say unequivocally that
no, birth control is not murder and it is not sinful.

For more reality checking of Dr. Thomas, check our short video on the subject: