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 –

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

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 –

Fresh challenges in Kenya HIV battle – Capital FM

Smoke tests call for mums-to-be –

Cuts question ‘family-friendly’ pledge – The Guardian

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

News Health Systems

What Happens When a Catholic-Run Clinic Comes to Your Local Walgreens?

Amy Littlefield

“It causes us great concern when we think about vulnerable populations ... [who] may need to use these clinics for things like getting their contraception prescribed and who would never think that when they went into a Walgreens they would be restricted by Catholic doctrine,” Lorie Chaiten, director of the women’s and reproductive rights project of the ACLU of Illinois, told Rewire.

One of the largest Catholic health systems is set to begin running health clinics inside 27 Walgreens stores in Missouri and Illinois next week. The deal between Walgreens and SSM Health has raised concerns from public interest groups worried that care may be compromised by religious doctrine.

Catholic health systems generally follow directives issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that restrict access to an array of services, including abortion care, contraception, tubal ligations, vasectomies, and fertility treatments.

“We are concerned that the clinics will likewise be required to follow the [directives], thereby severely curtailing access to important reproductive health services, information, and referrals,” MergerWatch, the National Health Law Program, and the American Civil Liberties Unions of Illinois and Missouri wrote in a letter to Walgreens on Wednesday. They also sent a letter to SSM Health.

In a statement emailed to Rewire, Walgreens said its relationship with SSM Health “will not have any impact on any of our current clinic or pharmacy policies and procedures.”

SSM Health emailed a statement saying it “will continue to offer the same services that are currently available at Walgreens Healthcare Clinics today.” If a patient needs services “that are beyond the scope of what is appropriate for a retail clinic setting, they will be referred to a primary care physician or other provider of their choice,” the statement read.

A spokesperson for SSM Health demurred when Rewire asked if that would include referrals for abortion care.

“I’ve got to check this part out, my apologies, this is one that hadn’t occurred to me,” said Jason Merrill, the spokesperson.

Merrill later reiterated SSM Health’s statement that it would continue to offer the same services.

Catholic health systems have in recent years expanded control over U.S. hospitals, with one in six acute-care hospital beds now in a Catholic-owned or -affiliated facility. Patients in such hospitals have been turned away while miscarrying, denied tubal ligations, and refused abortion care despite conditions like brain cancer.

Catholic health systems have also expanded into the broader landscape of outpatient services, raising new questions about how religion could influence other forms of care.

“The whole health system is transforming itself with more and more health care being delivered outside the hospital,” Lois Uttley, director of MergerWatch, told Rewire. “So we are looking carefully to make sure that the religious restrictions that have been such a problem for reproductive health care at Catholic hospitals are not now transferred to these drug store clinics or to urgent care centers or free-standing emergency rooms.”

Walgreens last year announced a similar arrangement with the Catholic health system Providence Health & Services to bring up to 25 retail clinics to Oregon and Washington. After expressing concerns about the deal, the ACLU of Washington said it received assurances from both Walgreens and Providence that services at those clinics would not be affected by religious doctrine.

Meanwhile, the major urgent care provider CityMD recently announced a partnership with CHI Franciscan Health–which is affiliated with Catholic Health Initiatives–to open urgent care centers in Washington state.

“We’re seeing [Catholic health systems] going into the urgent care business and into the primary care business and in accountable care organizations, where they are having an influence on the services that are available to the public and to consumers,” Susan Berke Fogel, director of reproductive health at the National Health Law Program, told Rewire.

GoHealth Urgent Care, which describes itself as “one of the fastest growing urgent care companies in the U.S.,” announced an agreement this year with Dignity Health to bring urgent care centers to California’s Bay Area. Dignity Health used to be called Catholic Healthcare West, but changed its name in 2012.

“This is another pattern that we’ve seen of Catholic health plans and health providers changing their names to things that don’t sound so Catholic,” Lois Uttley said.


In the letters sent Wednesday, the National Health Law Program and other groups requested meetings with Walgreens and SSM Health to discuss concerns about the potential influence of religion on the clinics.

“It causes us great concern when we think about vulnerable populations, we think about low-income people… people who… may need to use these clinics for things like getting their contraception prescribed and who would never think that when they went into a Walgreens they would be restricted by Catholic doctrine,” Lorie Chaiten, director of the Reproductive Rights Project of the ACLU of Illinois, told Rewire.

The new clinics in Walgreens will reportedly be called “SSM Health Express Clinics at Walgreens.” According to SSM Health’s website, its initials “[pay] tribute” to the Sisters of St. Mary.

“We are fairly forthcoming with the fact that we are a mission-based health care organization,” Merrill told Rewire. “That’s something we embrace. I don’t think it’s anything we would hide.”

News Law and Policy

California Lawmakers Take Action Against Rampant Wage Theft

Nicole Knight

A survey of people who work for low wages found that wage theft robbed workers of $26.2 million each week in Los Angeles, making the locale the "wage theft capital of the country."

Los Angeles has earned the distinction as the country’s wage theft capital, but a new California law is tackling the rampant problem of wage theft with new enforcement tools.

The law, SB 1342, signed last month by Gov. Jerry Brown (D), gives city and county authorities subpoena powers when investigating wage violations. Until now, the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement was the primary agency charged with investigating wage theft cases.

State Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) authored the legislation to “ensure that our low-wage workers, who already face many challenges, receive the pay that they have earned,” Mendoza wrote in an Orange County Breeze op-ed.

Wage theft is the illegal practice of failing to pay overtime and minimum wages, denying lunch breaks, or forcing employees to work off the clock. A survey of people who work for low wages by the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment found that wage theft robbed workers of $26.2 million each week in Los Angeles, making the locale the “wage theft capital of the country.”

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Some 654,914 workers in L.A. County are subjected to at least one pay-based violation in any given week, researchers noted.

Most people who work low-wage jobs in L.A. were born outside the United States, and the majority are Latino (73.4 percent), Asian (17.9 percent), or Black (6.3 percent), researchers found.

Wage theft is not only illegal, it contributes to food insecurity and housing instability in low-income families, Mendoza noted.

“This bill protects hard-working Californians by clarifying the ability of cities and counties to investigate non-compliance with local wage laws,” Mendoza said.

A legislative analysis of SB 1342 cited research noting that minimum wage violations are rampant in industries such as garment manufacturing, domestic service, building services, and department stores, where wages are low.

The measure comes as states and cities are increasing minimum wages as lawmakers in Congress have refused to consider raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Brown in April signed a law lifting the statewide minimum pay rate to $15 per hour by 2022. More than a dozen cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, have proposed or enacted $15 minimum wage rates, according to the National Employment Law Project.


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