Roundup: New York Legislature to Reform Sex Ed, Abortion Laws; Religious Right Attacks Daschle

Emily Douglas

Religious right opposes Daschle's nomination as HHS Secretary; New York legislators to push sex ed, abortion law reform; would Gupta be an independent voice?; smart spending on family planning.

Religious Right Opposes Daschle’s
Appointment as HHS Secretary

On Religion
, Bill Berkowitz reports on the Christian right’s opposition to
Sen. Tom Daschle’s appointment as Secretary of the Department of Health and
Human Services:

"Tom Daschle is a disaster appointment, the opposite of a national protector
of health and human services," Jill Stanek, the head of BornAliveTruth, the
anti-abortion group that ran advertisements against Obama during the election,
told the Catholic News Agency. "Daschle ardently supports abortion … and he
disdains abstinence education. The only reason Obama appointed Daschle was to
assure Obama’s radical support of the abortion industry would be extended
through HHS."

Tony Perkins, reports
, was disappointed by Senate Republicans’ questioning of Daschle
at his confirmation hearings:

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"This hearing would have been a prime opportunity to
ask Daschle whether he supports using taxpayer money to fund abortions for the
first time in over three decades," Perkins told

"Two years ago, Barack Obama said that ‘reproductive
health care’ (read: abortion) is an essential medical service," Perkins
added. "He went so far as to say that private and public insurers must pay
for abortions or face consequences. Does Daschle agree?"


New York Democratic Legislators to Push Sex Ed,
Abortion Law Reform

Establishing a sexuality education grant program and
reforming New York state’s abortion laws is a
priority for the now-Democratic controlled state legislature, the Poughkeepsie
Journal reports
.  The Healthy Teens Act, which would set up grants for comprehensive, medically-accurate sexuality education, has passed the Democrat-led Assembly, for each of the past four years, has not survived a Senate vote.  The abortion legislation "would make it
a fundamental right for women to make medical decisions on contraception and
pregnancy, something not currently in state law. It would ensure that health is
a primary concern in regulating abortion, and it would remove all references to
abortion from the state penal code."

Would Gupta Be an Independent Voice?

At the Boston
, Peter Connelly wonders whether Dr. Sanjay Gupta will be able to be a
sufficiently independent voice as surgeon general. Connelly recalls bold, independent action on women’s health issues by  Ronald Reagan’s surgeon general, C. Everett

And when Reagan, who opposed abortion rights, insisted that Koop deliver a
report on the possible health ramifications of abortion on women, many of
Koop’s critics feared that he would draw conclusions helpful to abortion-rights
opponents. Instead, he offered a scientific conclusion that there was no
conclusively reliable follow-up research on women who’d had abortions, and
declined to declare that abortions are a potential danger to women’s health. 

Smart Spending on Family Planning

In a letter to the editor in the Orlando
, Jenna Cawley of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando argued that
cutting funding for family planning centers would be "penny-wise but
pound-foolish" and that "ineffective programs" like Title V abstinence-only
programs and crisis pregnancy centers should be defunded first.  "While health-care agencies and programs are
facing cuts, so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" are being fully
funded at $2 million. These centers are not legitimate medical facilities…As
our elected officials make hard decisions about our budget, one decision
shouldn’t be hard — eliminate funding for ineffective abstinence-only programs
and crisis pregnancy centers." 

The Philadelphia
Daily News agrees
: in an editorial, the newspaper suggests that
President-Elect Obama’s chief performance officer, Nancy Killefer, needn’t look
farther than abstinence-only programs to find an ineffective, wasteful program
that doesn’t need government funding.  Says
the Daily News, "Only the people who collect a paycheck from them say that they
work. Yet another scientific study, released last month, says the programs
don’t lead to more sexual abstinence – and actually may lead to more unsafe
sex, which means more unwanted pregnancies and more sexually-transmitted
diseases. And we surely don’t need that." 

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