Blog of Rights

Rachel
Hart

Opinion, Opinions, Opinions.

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 2:00pm
So far, 2008 has been chock-full of opinion pieces on abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, no doubt driven by the perfect storm of media coverage: Jamie-Lynn's pregnancy in the tabloids, Juno, a new movie dealing with teen pregnancy, in theaters, and news coverage of 15 states that no longer accept federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. An editorial in Florida Today -- the daily newspaper serving Brevard County, Florida -- applauds the local school board's 2007 decision giving students information on how to prevent unintended pregnancy and STDs, calling the decision "timely and wise." The editorial notes that only a few counties in the state have followed Brevard's lead. On the other side of the state, The Tampa Tribune takes it one step further and calls on the Bush Administration to rethink its abstinence policies in the global fight against HIV/AIDS given the domestic failures of the programs. Ohio's Columbus Dispatch supports Governor Strickland's take on abstinence-only programs: The governor supports abstinence education. What he does not support is abstinence-only education. We are asking to put the money toward abstinence in the context of a comprehensive age-appropriate curriculumIn Houston, Texas, a columnist at The Katy Sun makes an unusual comparison about states' dependence on federal funding: It's much like heroin for an addict. That's the best way to describe federal money for state and local governments. They depend on it, and when it's made available, they'll go to great lengths to get it. And a Washington Post reader has this to say about only teaching abstinence: You can teach it. You can preach it. You can proselytize, and you can exemplify. You can cajole and bribe, threaten and chide, and advocate till you're blue in the face. You can just lay out the facts and hope for the best. Still, over the millennia, no civilization has yet devised a model for dissuading significant numbers of teenagers from having sex, certainly not to the overwhelming percentage necessary for abstinence-only to be an effective approach. In light of the current wave of coverage, some smaller newspapers are taking a look at local issues surrounding teen pregnancy. The Journal News has a piece on the rising teen pregnancy rate in New York's Lower Hudson Valley. Some high schools, including one in Port Chester, have programs to support pregnant and parenting teens (of the 525 girls in Port Chester High School, 19 are either pregnant or parenting) but an on-site medical clinic is only allowed to administer pregnancy tests -- it can't hand out condoms or prescribe birth control. And the Bristol Herald Courier in Virginia notes that the teen birth rate is up in Washington Country, Va., and Sullivan County, Tenn. (Bristol is on the Virgina/Tennessee border). Meanwhile, local groups in Virginia have announced their intentions to continue pushing for funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in the state legislature. All this coverage and yet there is still no movement in Congress to help teens get the information they need. A blog posting on RH Reality Check yesterday from Marcela Howell of Advocates for Youth had this to say about the Congress's failure to take on federal funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs:If you talk to some Hill staffers, they will tell you that there was no "community" (i.e., advocacy groups) will to push these issues. If you talk with the advocacy organizations, they'll tell you that there was no real "political" (i.e., elected officials) will to take on difficult issues. Either way you slice it, over 25 million American teens are the losers. I only hope that this increased buzz on teen pregnancy and the failures of abstinence-only-until-marriage keeps up. We need more people to realize that the federal government's insistence on a policy of abstinence-only-until-marriage is not only endangering teens, but also wasting an opportunity to address the high rates of pregnancy and STD transmission among teens in the U.S.

A sex ed resolution for 2008

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 1:59pm
With the New Year upon us, it seems only right to examine the state of sex education in the U.S. Launched in June 2005, this blog has witnessed a great deal of change. Back then, only a handful of states had rejected federal funds for abstinence-only-until-marriage…

States continue to turn down federal ab-only dollars

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 6:26pm
The Washington Post reported today that at least 14 states have turned down federal funds to teach abstinence-only-until-marriage programs: The number of states refusing federal money for "abstinence-only" sex education programs jumped sharply in…

Sex Ed News Round Up: Halloween Edition

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 4:48pm
The Portland Press Herald in Maine has a great op-ed from State Representative Sherry Huber in response to a recent decision by the Portland School Committee allowing a local middle school's health center to dispense birth control to sexually active students.…

Compromising Teens' Health

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 12:55pm
Yesterday, The New York Times ran a great op-ed about the recent debate in Congress over federal funding for the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. As you probably already know, President Bush…

Congress Once Again Extends Abstinence-Only Funding

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 4:13pm
Last week, Congress once again extended funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. Curious at how state and federal dollars are spent across the country supporting abstinence-only programs? Below is a summary from recent news clips. -- Earl…

New York Rejects Federal Abstinence-Only Dollars!

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 12:26pm
Yesterday, the New York Civil Liberties Union released a report examining federal funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs in the state. Financing Ignorance: A Report on Abstinence-Only-Until-Marriage Funding in New York investigates 39 abstinence-only-until-marriage…

News Round Up: Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Missouri

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 2:36pm
Over the last week, school districts all over the country have grappled with the issue of sex ed. In El Dorado, Kansas, the school board will vote tonight on whether or not to adopt the abstinence-only-until-marriage curriculum Choosing the Best. Reviews…

Editorial Support for Comprehensive Sex Ed and a look at the film Sex Ed and the State

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 11:16am
Over the last several weeks op-eds and editorials supporting comprehensive sex ed have appeared in papers across the country. This is not at all surprising given that the end of summer marks the beginning of a new school year. An editorial in the Athens…

Fantastic win in Brevard County, Florida!

By Rachel Hart, Reproductive Freedom Project at 10:39am
Last month I blogged about (last paragraph) a controversy in Brevard County, Florida, over the school district's sex ed curriculum. The local school board was divided over what exactly students should learn when it comes to contraceptives. According to…
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