Roundup: Misinformed, Misunderstood and Misled – Why We Need Sex Education

Robin Marty

A new study in Australia shows women don't understand the morning after pill.  But the biggest problem is a lack of understanding in their own reproductive health.

It’s hard to decide how to properly protect yourself against unwanted pregnancies if you don’t have all the facts on both how contraceptives and even your own body works.  Australia is learning that via a recent study that shows many women are afraid to use the morning after pill, even though it is widely and readily available in the country.

The Times of India reports:

Women fear using the ‘morning after’ pill, owing to misinformation about how it works and where they can get it, revealed reproductive health experts.

In the first national study of women’s use of emergency contraception since it was made available over the counter, it has been found that majority of women do not know they can buy it without a prescription.

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In fact, they also had many inaccurate beliefs.

A third believed it caused an abortion and nearly two-thirds thought it could lead to birth defects if it did not prevent pregnancy.

The study, which was conducted in Australia, concludes that without good information, especially via sex-ed programs, women will not be able to make good decisions for themselves because they are lacking understanding about their reproductive health.  Via the Sydney Morning Herald:

Leslie Cannold, a spokeswoman for Reproductive Choice Australia, said many women lacked understanding of how their bodies worked.

“We don’t have any national sexual and reproductive health education program or national standards for sexual and reproductive education,” she said. “Some kids are getting nothing and some are getting pretty questionable information”.

Naomi Knight, the chief executive of Sexual Health and Family Planning, said Australia had one of the highest abortion rates among developed countries and the study highlighted the need for better education.

It sounds so simple — increasing fact based sex education can help people make proper reproductive choices at an appropriate time.  Unfortunately, there are some who will go to great lengths to stop sex ed in schools, such as this pushback against adolescent reproductive health curiculum in the Philippines.  From GMANews.tv:

The bishops’ lawyer Josephine Imbong leafs through the pages of the sex education modules that the Department of Education (DepEd) proposes to teach in public schools. The 62-year-old mother of eight and self-styled pro-life advocate seems particularly bothered by what she’s reading.

Imbong points to a lesson for fifth-grade students about puberty, which features drawings of the male and female anatomy. Showing these images to children will “remove their sense of modesty,” she argues. “[It suggests that], okay lang naman pala mag-expose ng body. Dati, reproductive system. Ngayon, reproductive rights. Noon, biology lang. Ngayon, may rights-based na. It leads now to a concept of creating in the concept of a young mind of ‘Ah, may right pala ako sa aking katawan.’”

She flips through the teaching manual on mathematics and points to the description of a classroom activity that requires 4th year high school students to analyze statistics about pre-marital sex among Filipino teenagers.

“Imagine, you construct an algebraic equation out of statistics telling you that 30 percent of teens from 16 to 18 have had premarital sex?” she bristles. “I mean, this goes to the subconscious of the child na, ‘Uy, ang dami pala.”

Imbong speaks for the CBCP, the most vocal opponent of sex education in public schools. This school year, 80 elementary schools and 79 high schools around the country will be the first to pilot-test a set of teaching modules that integrate adolescent reproductive health (ARH) into the regular curriculum of 4th grade to 4th year high school students.

The modules integrate topics like personal hygiene and nutrition, reproductive biology, and human rights into regular subjects like English, Filipino, math, science, and social studies. At the end of the school year, teachers from the participating pilot schools will recommend modifications to the modules before deciding whether to implement sex education on a nationwide scale.

But if the CBCP had its way, the program would be scrapped completely.

Mini Roundup: Randall Terry is enjoying another 15 minutes, this time by taking a handful of protesters to Mitch McConnell’s office to protest Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination. Meanwhile, Terry’s former group Operation Rescue is instigating another lawsuit in Iowa.

July 19, 2010

Abortion Hearing Begins Today – KOKI FOX 23

The Death Rattle of Hope Clinic – Christian News Wire

States try new tactics to restrict abortion – Sacramento Bee

You Can’t Take the Back Alley Out of Abortion – First Things

State Audit of Iowa Planned Parenthood Demanded in Wake of Telemed Abortion … – Christian News Wire

Sen. Mitch McConnell lobbied by protestors to hold up Elena Kagan nomination – Louisville Courier-Journal

The New Abortion Providers – New York Times

Judge extends order blocking Okla. abortion law – The Associated Press

Abortion and the eclipse of reason – RenewAmerica

This Year, Colo. Initiatives Mostly Ending In Failure – State Bill Colorado

Pennsylvania Poll: Pro-Life Pat Toomey Still Leads Pro-Abortion Joe Sestek – LifeNews.com

NM move to cover abortion in high risk pools prompts feds to ban coverage – The New Mexico Independent

Palin Endorses Ayotte In Senate Race – WMUR Manchester

Battle Continues Over Abortion In High-Risk Insurance Pools – NPR

Review: Obama Admin Would Have Funded Abortions in HCR Without Expose’ – LifeNews.com

Maryland Plan Indicates HHS Approved High Risk Pools With No Abortion Requirements – Lifesite

Banned TV Episode Has Its Day on DVD – New York Times

Who’s Telling the Truth About Health Care? – FOXNews

Crist Uses Old Party as New Foil – Wall Street Journal

Surgeon General Koop Urges No Vote on Kagan Based on Abortion Manipulation – LifeNews.com

Anti-abortion group calls off UVic lawsuit – CBC.ca

Maryland and New Mexico Emerge in the Abortion Health Care Scheme – CitizenLink

Federal Funding for Abortion Under ObamaCare Stirs Controversy – allvoices

CD8: Paton Endorsed By Arizona Right to Life – Tucson Weekly

Anti-abortion group gets funding, settles lawsuit with UVic students’ society – Winnipeg Free Press

Abortion foe pickets McConnell office – Cincinnati.com

Abortion returns to campaign forefront – Washington Times

Oklahoma’s abortion law stays blocked for now – NewsOK.com

Abortion Excluded From Health Care Coverage – Care2.com

Jost Jousts – Commonweal

Morning after pill awareness shortfall – Sydney Morning Herald

Documentary Revealing Truth About The Pill Now Available Online – Philadelphia Bulletin

Washington pharmacy board making new Plan B rules – Seattle Times

NJ health chief is questioned about Christie’s $7.5M grant cut for family … – The Star-Ledger – NJ.com

Birth Control’s Hidden Costs – Mother Jones

Only Half of HIV-Exposed Infants in Africa Receive HIV Prophylaxis – Medscape

Clinton, Gates push for more efficient HIV/AIDS programs – The Republic

Save mother’ campaign to reduce maternal mortality – Times of India

CBCP: Sex ed will cause ‘developmental harm’ to kids – GMA news.tv

July 20, 2010

HHS rules in PCIP Abortion Issue – Gossip Jackal

Race-Targeted Abortion: Today’s Greatest Civil Rights Challenge – American Thinker

RU486 abortion trial set for October – Sydney Morning Herald

University anti-abortion club reborn after court challenge – Vancouver Sun

Pro-abortion groups turn on Obama – California Catholic Daily

LET’S TALK ABOUT…SEX! – The Moderate Voice

Sarah Palin’s NH endorsement includes geography goof – Boston Herald

Bitter pill to swallow – The Spokesman Review

Obama administration calls for end to HIV-specific criminal laws – Michigan Messenger

Gel helped women in study block HIV infection – Boston Globe

Federal Report: HIV Among US Poor Matches Rates in Developing Countries – AOL News

Misinformed women fear the morning after pill – Times of India

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

Anti-Choice Legislator Confirms Vote on House Conscience Protections (Updated)

Christine Grimaldi

The Conscience Protection Act would give health-care providers a private right of action to seek civil damages in court, should they face supposed coercion to provide abortion care or discrimination stemming from their refusal to assist in abortion care. The Act allows providers to sue not only for threats, but also for perceived threats.

UPDATE: July 14, 10 a.m.: The House passed the Conscience Protection Act Wednesday night in a largely party line 245-182 vote. Prior to floor consideration, House Republicans stripped the text of an unrelated Senate-passed bill (S. 304) and replaced it with the Conscience Protection Act. They likely did so to skip the Senate committee referral process, House Democratic aides told Rewire, expediting consideration across the capitol and, in theory, ushering a final bill to the president’s desk. President Barack Obama, however, would veto the Conscience Protection Act, according to a statement of administration policy.

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote next Wednesday on legislation that would allow a broadened swath of health-care providers to sue if they’re supposedly coerced into providing abortion care, or if they face discrimination for refusing to provide such care, according to a prominent anti-choice lawmaker.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA) told Rewire in a Friday morning interview that House leadership confirmed a vote on the Conscience Protection Act (H.R. 4828) for July 13, days before the chamber adjourns for the presidential nominating conventions and the August recess. Pitts said he expects the bill to be brought up as a standalone measure, rather than as an amendment to any of the spending bills that have seen Republican amendments attacking a range of reproductive health care and LGBTQ protections.

The office of U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) had no immediate comment.

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Pitts’ remarks came during and after he hosted a “Forum on Conscience Protections” in the House Energy and Commerce Committee room to garner support for the bill.

Energy and Commerce Democrats boycotted the forum, a House Democratic aide told Rewire in a subsequent interview.

Legislation Builds on Precedent

Conscience protections are nothing new, the aide said. The latest iteration is a successor to the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (S. 1919/H.R. 940), which remains pending in the House and U.S. Senate. There’s also the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (S. 50) and similarly named bills in both chambers. The fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health, and Human Services funding bill, which guts Title X and Teen Pregnancy Prevention grants, includes the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.

At the leadership level, Ryan’s recently released health-care plan mimics key provisions in the Conscience Protection Act. Both would give health-care providers a private right of action to seek civil damages in court, should they face alleged coercion or discrimination stemming from their refusal to assist in abortion care. The Conscience Protection Act goes a step further, allowing providers to sue not only for threats, but also for perceived threats.

The proposals would also codify and expand the Weldon Amendment, named for former Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL), who participated in Pitts’ conscience forum. The Weldon Amendment prohibits states that receive federal family planning funding from discriminating against health-care plans based on whether they cover abortion care. Currently, Congress must pass Weldon every year as an amendment to annual appropriations bills.

Administration Action Provides Impetus

There hadn’t been much public dialogue around conscience protections with the exception of some anti-choice groups that “have really been all over it,” the aide said. The National Right to Life issued an action alert, as did the Susan B. Anthony List, to galvanize support for the Conscience Protection Act.

The relative silence on the issue began to break after the Obama administration took a stand on abortion care in June.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights rejected anti-choice groups’ “right of conscience” complaint against California’s requirement that insurance plans must cover elective abortions under the definition of “basic health-care services.” Anti-choice groups had argued the California law violates the Weldon Amendment, but the administration found otherwise.

The California decision reinvigorated support for the Conscience Protection Act, the aide said. Ryan’s earlier health-care plan also specifically references the decision.

“We think this is going to be a big issue for us throughout the rest of this Congress,” the aide said.

Aide Outlines Additional Consequences

Beyond creating a private right of action and codifying Weldon, the Conscience Protection Act contains additional consequences for abortion care, the aide said.

The legislation would expand the definition of health-care providers to employers, social service organizations, and any other entity that offers insurance coverage, allowing them to raise objections under Weldon, the aide said. The aide characterized the change as a direct response to the California decision.

The legislation also broadens the list of objectionable services to include facilitating or making arrangements for abortion care, according to the aide.

The Republican-dominated House is likely to pass the Conscience Protection Act. But the aide did not expect it to advance in the Senate, which would all but certainly require a 60-vote threshold for such a controversial measure. More than anything, the aide said, the bill seems to be catering to anti-choice groups and long-time proponents of conscience clauses.

“The House oftentimes will pass these kinds of anti-choice proposals, and then they just go nowhere in the Senate,” the aide said.