Midland Superintendent Shocked–Just Shocked!–by Teen Pregnancy Rate in Public Schools

Julie Sunday

One hundred and twenty girls in the Midland, TX school district--including one as young as twelve (!)--are in the family way so far this school year.

Cross-posted from How to Have Sex in Texas with permission from the author.

Oh yeah, drill me baby, drill me! via mywesttexas.com.

Oh yeah, drill me baby, drill me! via mywesttexas.com.

Apparently fair little Midland, the “tall city” in the middle of nowhere from which George W. Bush (sort of) hails, has found itself between a rock and a big, throbbing, hard place. Just 4 months after a weekend swinger’s convention was cancelled, fully 120 girls in the district, including one as young as twelve (!), are in the family way so far this school year. And more shocking, of those who were in “pregnancy services” in 2009, 90% tested positive for an STI. Which kind of makes sense since Midland has higher rates of Chlamydia and teen birth than the state of Texas overall.

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Considering that Texas is widely known as a contender in the teen pregnancy national championship every year, this is bad news for Midland. While 120 pales in comparison to Austin ISD’s 375 pregnant girls in 2009-2010, Midland only has 21,374 students enrolled in its school district as compared to Austin’s 84,676. But in 2009 Midland was rated “academically unacceptable” by the Texas Education Agency, so something bad is going down up in oil town.

The Superintendent, Ryder Warren, promises action, and is working with a local crisis prengnacy trap, The Life Center, to “educate students on abstinence and safe sex as a stop-gap measure.” Wait…a “stop-gap” measure? What have they been doing all along? Oh, this: “Health advisory council member Mike Mills said research conducted by the council revealed only two days were devoted to sex education.” It sounds like Midland may join the other two lonely Texas districts who plan to dump abstinence education for OBVIOUSLY NOT WORKING.

Just in case you’re wondering, here’s what the Life Center’s website says it offers for its MPACT Character-based Sexual Integrity Program for grade 6, the goal of which is “to equip sixth graders to abstain from premarital sex and other risk-taking behaviors through education”:

Defining sexual integrity [abstain or you’re a slut, confusingly demonstrated by a piece of tape]
Consequences of Sex before marriage vs. Benefits of Boundaries [hmm, wonder how this “compare and contrast” turns out]
Basic Sexual Anatomy (gender specific) [penises and vaginas, folks]
Self Worth and Personal Character Values [if you have sex you don’t have these]
Choosing friends based on your values [sluts make bad friends so it’s ok to be mean to them]
The Media Message: Fantasy vs. Reality [OMG PORN IS ADDICTIVE SRSLY]
Healthy Affection vs. Inappropriate Behavior [if he wants to have sex with you there’s no way he loves you]
Making a Commitment [straight people only, please]
Goal setting [rinse and repeat: don’t have sex]

Warren said the district is evaluating a curriculum recommended by both the district Student Health Advisory Committee and the Life Center, but no word on which one it is. Maybe Big Decisions? Whatever program they choose, it won’t go into effect before next fall. But Midland’s motto is “The Sky’s the Limit,” so I’m confident with a lot of long, hot, hard work they can get up to Austin numbers before prom.

But then again, it could be like this.

News Human Rights

Hospital in Marlise Munoz Case Represented by Anti-Choice Lawyer, Family to Sue (UPDATED)

Andrea Grimes

Marlise Munoz's family has plans to sue for the right to take her off life support, while legal counsel for the hospital includes a local Right to Life chapter's advisory board member.

Read more of our coverage on Marlise Munoz’s case here.

Update, January 10, 5:14 p.m. ET: Rewire has received the following statement from John Peter Smith Hospital:

“Neal Adams will not be involved [in the Munoz case]. The legal representative for the Tarrant County Hospital District, like every other arm of county government, is the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.”

The family of Marlise Munoz, the pregnant Texan who is being kept on life support against her and her family’s wishes, has retained legal counsel to soon file suit on her behalf, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The paper also reports that one of the attorneys representing the hospital where Munoz is being kept on life support is an advisory board member of a local anti-choice organization.

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Munoz’s family says doctors at John Peter Smith (JPS) Hospital have declared Munoz brain-dead, and say that she has not breathed on her own, nor has her heart beat on its own, since she collapsed on November 26, when she was 14 weeks pregnant.

A hospital representative has contended that JPS doctors had no choice but to keep Munoz on life support for months in order to allow her pregnancy to come to viability, as they believe Texas law requires. Texas is one of 12 states that automatically invalidates any advance directives when a patient is pregnant, regardless of the viability of the pregnancy.

Some medical ethicists contacted by news outlets disagree with the hospital’s contention, however, emphasizing that brain death is legal death, and that in fact doctors have an obligation not to continue to attempt to treat a dead person.

Nevertheless, JPS released a statement yesterday saying that it is “encouraged” by the Munoz family’s decision to retain legal counsel, “because the courts are the appropriate venue to provide clarity, direction and resolution in this matter.”

Earlier this month, Munoz’s mother, Lynne Machado, told Rewire that strangers have wrongly tried to turn her daughter’s situation into a “pro-life” versus pro-choice political issue, rather than allow it to remain a private decision that should be made by a grieving family. Some anti-choice commenters online have accused Erick Munoz, Marlise’s husband, of being too anxious to take his wife off life support, while others assert that, despite her express wishes as told to her family, they believe she would prefer to be kept on life support to advance her pregnancy.

JPS’ legal counsel, Neal Adams, has taken a clear stance against abortion rights. According to the Star-Telegram, Adams “led the drive to end abortions at JPS in 1988,” and is also an advisory board member at the Northeast Tarrant County Right To Life Educational Association. According to the group’s website, its focus is to “educate the public on the value of human life from the moment of conception in the hope that the life of the unborn child will be protected from conception to natural birth.”

Munoz family attorney Heather King declined to give the paper details of their planned litigation, saying only that “it will be filed soon.”

News Law and Policy

Texas Lawmaker Seeks To Ban Planned Parenthood From Providing Sex Ed in Public Schools

Andrea Grimes

A freshman state representative in Texas is continuing the state's bizarre vendetta against abortion providers and their affiliates—that's Texan for "Planned Parenthood"—by filing a bill that would prevent such entities from providing sex education in schools.

A freshman state representative in Texas is continuing the state’s dogged vendetta against abortion providers and their affiliates—that’s Texan for “Planned Parenthood”—by filing a bill that would prevent such entities from providing sex education in schools. This morning, Rep. Jeff Leach filed HB 1057, which reads, in part:

An entity or individual that performs abortions or an affiliate of an entity or individual that performs abortions may not provide human sexuality or family planning instruction or instructional materials for use in human sexuality or family planning instruction in a public school.

The bill would also put into law a requirement that students get written parental consent before receiving any family planning or sexual education instruction in the classroom. Currently, the state of Texas does not require any public school to provide any sex education whatsoever, but if districts do choose to do so, the state requires them to establish community councils that set the curricula for public school health and human sexuality education. Districts are then required to make that curricula available to parents, but existing statute does not require parental consent for the instruction itself.

Texas is already a champion of abstinence-only sex education, and has the fourth highest teen birth rate in the nation. 

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