Roundup: Masturbation as Natural as Breathing….Let’s Ban That, Too

Jodi Jacobson

The far right continues to use the "sex boogeyman" as a scare tactic to undermine comprehensive sex ed, here and abroad. Agence-France Press reports that guidelines originally drafted by the UN cultural organisation Unesco will promote.....(gasp!)....masturbation.

Shades of Jocelyn Elders: Far right has its knickers in a twist on masturbation as part of sex ed curriculum

The far right continues to use the "sex boogeyman" as a scare tactic to undermine comprehensive sex ed, here and abroad. 

Agence-France Press reports that guidelines originally drafted by the UN cultural organisation Unesco will promote…..(gasp!)….masturbation.

First of all, as a mother of two, I can tell you that children begin touching their bodies, including their genitalia, when they are infants.  It is natural and there is nothing wrong with it.  The thing that is wrong is the horrified reaction of adults to this natural behavior.  Second, if we want teens to delay sexual activity as long as possible, then masturbation is a good tool to promote that.  Finally, making masturbation dirty makes a natural act dirty, and can lead to lifelong sexual hangups.  No matter whether you are "abstinent until marriage" or not, there is nothing wrong with masturbation.

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Tell that to the far right.  (I know none of these folks masturbates……).

The draft guidelines now under review, the International Guidelines on Sexual Education, are intended to improve the sexual education of the world’s
children by creating a platform that can be adapted by national governments in creating curricula and guiding policy discussions.  Shockingly, these guidelines are based on evidence, human rights, and best practices. 

But they have come under attack from parts of the American right, which
has accused UNESCO of "promoting masturbation" and, of course, no surprise….abortion.

The AFP story states:

Last week, the UN cultural organisation Unesco released the draft International Guidelines on Sexual Education intended for discussion among experts in the coming months before a final version is sent to national authorities.

guidelines are meant as a "global template" of ideas to help young
people make safe and responsible sexual choices, avoid sexually
transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy and escape prostitution or
other abuses.

But one section of the draft in particular appears
to have caught the eye of American headline writers. "UN report
advocates teaching masturbation to five-year-olds," ran one story on
the Fox News website.

AFP at least gets it right by noting that the Fox report and "many more like it from
mainly right-wing US media and internet outlets," focused on the Unesco
report’s suggested syllabus for school children aged between five and
eight years old.

What do the guidelines say on this issue?

"It is natural to explore and touch
parts of one’s own body. Bodies can feel good when touched. Touching
and rubbing one’s genitals is called masturbating. Some people
masturbate and some do not.

"Masturbation is not harmful, but should be done in private," it adds.

It’s kind of like saying "it is natural to breathe."  But if that was "pleasurable," or otherwise political, the far right would also be after banning breathing (except for themselves, of course).

Liliana Segura of Alternet, citing Tampa Bay Online, writes about efforts to pass an "egg-as-person" law in Florida:

"Yes, the state that brought you Bush v. Gore, the sex offender colony under the bridge, and the shoot-first-ask-questions-later legislation known as the "Stand Your Ground Law" has another idea up its sleeve. And this one’s for the ladies."

Tampa Bay Online reports:

TALLAHASSEE – Anti-abortion conservatives are proposing a
new constitutional amendment that critics claim would make it a crime
to take birth control pills in Florida.

"Personhood Amendment" that conservative activists are filing today in
Tallahassee would add language to the state constitution that defines
someone as a "person," regardless of age or health status, "from the
beginning of the biological development of that human being."

Segura continues:

"This, of course, is just another twist on the conventional argument
by anti-choice groups that birth control pills are basically murder

The pill will irritate the lining of the uterus so that the
newly formed human being cannot attach to his/her mother’s womb and
dies," reads an explanation on the website of the American Life League, which is supporting similar efforts in other states. "This is called a chemical abortion.

This is the same group that runs, a site that "focuses on blood clots and other health risks that birth control pills pose to women."


Even if these people manage to collect the 676,811 signatures
they need to get by Feb. 1 in order for this idea to be considered by
Florida residents, even anti-choice politicians seem to be a bit
ambivalent about the idea of criminalizing birth control.


Other news:


Tri-State News: Arizona abortion law faces court challenges

Catholic Exchange: Spanish Doctors Will Choose Jail over Committing Abortion

Chicago Tribune: Illinois gets funding for increasing adoptions

WaPo: Voices of Power: Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius

National Post: Incivility hurts the pro-life cause

WaPo: When It Comes to Pollution, Less (Kids) May Be More

ABC News Australia: Ethiopian children exploited by US adoption agencies

News 24: UN ‘promoting masturbation’


AlterNet: Anti-Choice Floridians Peddling Constitutional Amendment to Criminalize Birth Control Pill

Niagara Gazette: CONFER: Health care reform and abortions

HuffPo: When Planning a Pregnancy Can Save a Woman’s Life

Chicago Daily Observer: A Clear Statement on Healthcare Bill: Abortion Will Not Be Funded

Star Beacon: Brown aide: Health reforms won’t pay abortions costs

The Lariat Online: Mike Huckabee to visit Waco, speak on life

NYTimes: New Objections to Baucus Health Care Proposal

State News: Bill calls for insurance-backed birth control

Naples News: VIDEOS/PHOTOS: Protesters remain peaceful on first day of abortions at Planned Parenthood

Dominican Today: Amnesty International joins Dominican abortion fray

Catholic News Agency: Murder of Michigan pro-lifer a ‘non-story’ for Obama Catholics

LifeNews: Arizona Planned Parenthood Sues to Overturn New Pro-Life Laws Limiting Abortions

Baptist Press: Slain pro-life activist is martyr, some say

San Antonio Business Journal: Texas receives $5 million in incentive money for increasing adoptions

Opposing Views: Using Abortion to Choose Baby’s Gender-Is it Right?

U.S. News & World Report: Abortion Debate Could Make or Break Healthcare Reform

ABC News: Low-Dose Birth Control Pills May Weaken Bones

Catholic Exchange: Pro-Abortion Groups Silent in Wake of Pro-Life Activist’s Slaying

U.S. News & World Report: The Liberal, Pro-Life Case Against Healthcare Reform’s Foes

Phoenix Business Journal: Planned Parenthood sues over new abortion restrictions

Atlantic: Beware Of Decoys In The Abortion Wars

LifeNews: Obama Won’t Meet With Pro-Life Democrat to Discuss Abortion, Health Care

LifeNews: Catholic Bishops Differ From Pro-Life Response to Obama Abortion Funding Claim

LifeNews: White House Will Meet With Skeptical Pro-Life Leader on Abortion, Health Care

Washington Times: Pro-lifers pray for Obama’s conversion Abortion Double Standard

Palm Beach Post: (Letter) Rhetoric neglects to take stand on abortion issue

Denver Post: Health care’s hot topic: funding for abortions

Boston Herald: Pro-choice group supports Martha Coakley


NewsBusters: ABC Thinks ObamaCare MIGHT Cover Abortions


News Abortion

Study: United States a ‘Stark Outlier’ in Countries With Legal Abortion, Thanks to Hyde Amendment

Nicole Knight Shine

The study's lead author said the United States' public-funding restriction makes it a "stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations."

The vast majority of countries pay for abortion care, making the United States a global outlier and putting it on par with the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan and a handful of Balkan States, a new study in the journal Contraception finds.

A team of researchers conducted two rounds of surveys between 2011 and 2014 in 80 countries where abortion care is legal. They found that 59 countries, or 74 percent of those surveyed, either fully or partially cover terminations using public funding. The United States was one of only ten countries that limits federal funding for abortion care to exceptional cases, such as rape, incest, or life endangerment.

Among the 40 “high-income” countries included in the survey, 31 provided full or partial funding for abortion care—something the United States does not do.

Dr. Daniel Grossman, lead author and director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) at the University of California (UC) San Francisco, said in a statement announcing the findings that this country’s public-funding restriction makes it a “stark outlier among countries where abortion is legal—especially among high-income nations.”

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The researchers call on policymakers to make affordable health care a priority.

The federal Hyde Amendment (first passed in 1976 and reauthorized every year thereafter) bans the use of federal dollars for abortion care, except for cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. Seventeen states, as the researchers note, bridge this gap by spending state money on terminations for low-income residents. Of the 14.1 million women enrolled in Medicaid, fewer than half, or 6.7 million, live in states that cover abortion services with state funds.

This funding gap delays abortion care for some people with limited means, who need time to raise money for the procedure, researchers note.

As Jamila Taylor and Yamani Hernandez wrote last year for Rewire, “We have heard first-person accounts of low-income women selling their belongings, going hungry for weeks as they save up their grocery money, or risking eviction by using their rent money to pay for an abortion, because of the Hyde Amendment.”

Public insurance coverage of abortion remains controversial in the United States despite “evidence that cost may create a barrier to access,” the authors observe.

“Women in the US, including those with low incomes, should have access to the highest quality of care, including the full range of reproductive health services,” Grossman said in the statement. “This research indicates there is a global consensus that abortion care should be covered like other health care.”

Earlier research indicated that U.S. women attempting to self-induce abortion cited high cost as a reason.

The team of ANSIRH researchers and Ibis Reproductive Health uncovered a bit of good news, finding that some countries are loosening abortion laws and paying for the procedures.

“Uruguay, as well as Mexico City,” as co-author Kate Grindlay from Ibis Reproductive Health noted in a press release, “legalized abortion in the first trimester in the past decade, and in both cases the service is available free of charge in public hospitals or covered by national insurance.”

News Abortion

Pennsylvania’s TRAP Law Could Be the Next to Go Down

Teddy Wilson

The Democrats' bill would repeal language from a measure that targets abortion clinics, forcing them to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical facilities.

A Pennsylvania lawmaker on Wednesday introduced a bill that would repeal a state law requiring abortion clinics to meet the standards of ambulatory surgical facilities (ASF). The bill comes in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a similar provision in Texas’ anti-choice omnibus law known as HB 2.

A similar so-called targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) law was passed in Pennsylvania in 2011 with bipartisan majorities in both the house and state senate, and was signed into law by former Gov. Tom Corbett (R).

SB 1350, sponsored by Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) would repeal language from Act 122 that requires abortion clinics to meet ASF regulations. The text of the bill has not yet been posted on the state’s legislative website.

The bill is co-sponsored by state Sens. Art Haywood (D-Philadelphia), Larry Farnese (D-Philadelphia), and Judy Schwank (D-Berks).

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Leach said in a statement that there has been a “nationwide attack on patients and their doctors,” but that the Supreme Court’s ruling upholds the constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy.

“Abortion is a legal, Constitutionally-protected right that should be available to all women,” Leach said. “Every member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly swore an oath to support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States, so we must act swiftly to repeal this unconstitutional requirement.”

TRAP laws, which single out abortion clinics and providers and subject them to regulations that are more stringent than those applied to medical clinics, have been passed in several states in recent years.

However, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt that struck down two of the provisions in HB 2 has already had ramifications on similar laws passed in other states with GOP-held legislatures.

The Supreme Court blocked similar anti-choice laws in Wisconsin and Mississippi, and Alabama’s attorney general announced he would drop an appeal to a legal challenge of a similar law.