Roundup: Should A Seven Year-Old Get a Condom?

Robin Marty

A new condom distribution policy in a Massachusetts town has people debating the true meaning of protection.

Provincetown, Massachusetts is offering condoms to all elementary age school children who ask for them, and yes, that includes first graders. 

From the Boston Fox News affiliate:

An elementary school in Provincetown is constituting a controversial condom distribution policy, allowing kids as early as first grade to [obtain them.]The new policy, which the school board voted unanimously to pass, requires students in the elementary school and the high school to speak with a school nurse or trained counselor before receiving a condom.

This will allow students of all ages to learn information on proper use.

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The policy also directs school leaders not to honor demands from parents who object to their kids receiving protection.The school feels that this would infringe on the kids’ right to inform parents.

“We’re talking about younger kids. They have questions they need answered on how to use them, when to use them,” School Superintendent Dr. Beth Singer said.

As always, there are people willing to speak out on both sides.  Some think it’s a horrible idea.

My own daughter is just finishing grade two. She studies health at school geared towards her grade level. Her dad and I keep her age appropriately informed in terms of her sexuality. Condom use, in my opinion, doesn’t fall under “age appropriate.” And if any six or seven-year-old requests one, it should set off alarm bells.

It’s difficult to please all parents when it comes to topics covered in school that fall outside the three R’s. Federal and state governments often pass legislation and create policies ignoring the fact some teacher or school nurse way down below on the food chain is going to be the one responsible for making the whimsical requirements workable. 

And this is why we end up with rules that are as ridiculous as the Provincetown condom policy.

Elementary school students are unlikely to ask their school nurse for condoms. But policies that fail to take age into account force schools to adopt stop-gap rules that are just as awful as the bad policy holes they are trying to cover up.

Others think it’s a great way to get ahead of potential teen sex.

I’m a strong advocate of early sex ed for kids, that is, honest and age-appropriate information early on.  Fundamentally, I don’t think this program — despite the sensational headlines — will end up being any different than others that hand out condoms to kids at school.  But there are two things that concern me:  1)  Are they promoting condoms to kids in the lower grades?  Or is it just a matter of, say, a sign on the wall in the nurse’s office?  And 2)  I always get a little nervous when parental input is totally disregarded.

Here’s what I think will happen: Some fourth or fifth grade kid will get brave enough to ask for a condom, listen to the speech, then they’ll take it out on the playground where a group of kids will gather around to see what’s inside.

But mostly, the kids who are going to be asking are probably going to be those who are having or are thinking about having sex, like a 14-year-old girl who doesn’t feel safe talking to her parents. This new policy provides her with someone she can talk to — has to talk to, in fact, if she wants her free condom. And maybe that person will say something that makes her think about what she’s about to do.

And no, I don’t think we’ll see any condoms being handed out to first graders.

And then of course there is the Massachusetts Family Council, who thinks it’s the next sign of Armageddon.

Kris Mineau, President, Massachusetts Family Institute, called the new policy “radical” and “absurd.”

“Making condoms available to first graders bullies parents to submit to an agenda that promotes sexual promiscuity to innocent children at their most vulnerable age,” Mineau said in a statement.

So how are actual parents in the school district reacting to the news?  You’d be surprised.  Via the Boston Herald:

The superintendent added only one parent contacted her, and he simply asked to be informed ahead of the policy’s implementation so he can talk to his child about the birds and the bees before the condoms are up for grabs.

Mini Roundup: Conservative women don’t need to use the word “feminism” because they know women “have equality already.”  Really?  Someone should tell these women.  And these women.  And these women.

June 24, 2010

Poll Has Pro-Life Sharron Angle Still Leading Pro-Abortion Harry Reid in Nevada – LifeNews.com

Top Republican Suggests Filibuster of Pro-Abortion Elena Kagan Still a Possibility – LifeNews.com

Pro-abortion graffiti painted on home – Dubuque Telegraph Herald

Condoms for first graders? – Atlanta Journal Constitution

MRC Study: Media Blackout of Supreme Court ‘Battle’ – NewsBusters

USCCB committee explains direct abortion, legitimate medical procedure – U.S. Catholic magazine

World Health Organization Targets Unsafe Abortions – Voice of America

National Anti-Abortion Group Meets Near Pittsburgh – CBS 3

Companies fear that babies can become trapped, suffocate – Salon

History of Birth Control – EmpowHer

Women Struggle for a Foothold in Chinese Politics – New York Times

Defunding Guttmacher – National Review Online

First Graders Could Get Contraception Under New Policy – Babble

Georgetown protester chains self to statue – Washington Post

“Bright Pill” for Male Birth Control Shows Promise in Early Tests – Popular Science

Double-whammy: Aging China has fewer children to care for it – McClatchy Washington Bureau

Saving a Generation: Preventing Mother to Child Transmission of HIV – The Atlantic

Fighting HIV with Knowledge – Kansas City infoZine

Cervical Cancer Conference in Africa – Ghana

Bristol Palin Makes Acting Debut To Less Than Stellar Results – Technorati

The world’s mothers need our help – Ottawa Citizen

Bristol Palin on ‘Secret Life’: ‘We’re all teen moms’ – Entertainment Weekly

A Tragedy That Doesn’t Have to Happen – Huffington Post

June 25, 2010

Battling HIV/AIDS in South Africa: One Goal at a Time – Huffington Post

Reportlinker Adds HIV-AIDS – Pipeline Assessment and Market Forecasts to 2016 – PR Newswire

G20 leaders must heed call for HIV/AIDS meds – Toronto Star

CHAD: Sex workers ill-informed about HIV – IRINnews.org

Fresh challenges in Kenya HIV battle – Capital FM

Smoke tests call for mums-to-be – istockAnalyst.com

Cuts question ‘family-friendly’ pledge – The Guardian

Sebelius: Health Care Reform ‘Puts Women Back In Control’ – Huffington Post

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 Family Planning

Lawsuit Challenges Arizona’s Attempt to Defund Planned Parenthood

Nicole Knight Shine

The Republican-backed law specifically targets abortion providers, excluding any facility from Medicaid that fails "to segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions, including the use of taxpayer dollars for any overhead expenses attributable to abortions.”

Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked a federal court to block an Arizona law defunding Planned Parenthood, arguing in a legal challenge filed Thursday that the Arizona measure is “illegal.”

The GOP-backed law, signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey in May, specifically targets abortion providers, excluding any facility from Medicaid that fails “to segregate taxpayer dollars from abortions, including the use of taxpayer dollars for any overhead expenses attributable to abortions.”

Federal law already bars health-care providers from using Medicaid dollars for abortion care, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.

In an 18-page complaint, the plaintiffs argue that the restriction is impermissible under Medicaid statutes, and they ask for an injunction on the law, which goes into effect August 6. Planned Parenthood said in an emailed statement that the law could slash funding for birth control, cancer screenings, and preventive care, affecting more than 2,500 Medicaid patients in the state.

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The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state Medicaid agency, did not respond to a request for comment.

Jennifer Lee, staff attorney at the ACLU, called the Arizona law “another attempt to intimidate doctors who provide abortion and to punish low-income women in particular,” in a statement announcing the lawsuit. Planned Parenthood operates 11 medical centers in the state, including three in underserved and impoverished communities with high rates of infant mortality, according to the court filing.

At least ten states, including Arizona, have attempted to strip Planned Parenthood of funding—the fallout from a string of deceptive smear videos masterminded by David Daleiden, the head of the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress, who now faces a felony record-tampering charge.

“This case is about the people who rely on us for basic care every day,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in an announcement of the Arizona suit. “We’ll continue fighting in Arizona, and anywhere else there are efforts to block our patients from the care they need.”

The Arizona law represents the state’s second attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. In 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court decision finding a similar defunding measure, HB 2800, violated federal Medicaid law.

In April, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sent a letter to all 50 states saying that cutting funding to qualified providers solely because they provide abortion care violates federal law.

Independent analysis suggests gutting Planned Parenthood funding exacts a toll on health care.

2015 report from the Congressional Budget Office indicated that health-care access would suffer under Planned Parenthood funding cuts, with the potential for $650 million in additional Medicaid spending over a decade and thousands of more births.

In Texas, births surged 27 percent among low-income women who were using injectable birth control but lost access to the service when the state cut Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.