Monday, March 09, 2009

This Week in Pro-Choicing*

Planned Parenthood's Lobby Day is Thursday! Have you signed up yet? (Today's the last day!)

We will urge our legislators to:
  • increase funding for marketing and advertising for the Women's Health Program, which provides family planning and other basic health care to women who do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance. This is a GREAT PROGRAM, and it can save the state BILLIONS -- but less than 17% of the women eligible for the program are on it. Why? Because the budget to advertise this program is so tiny, nobody knows about it. My mother is a social worker, has worked with the state and county for years, counseling low-income women and children, and she had no idea about the program
  • support Prevention Works! (HB 1694/SB 1100):

    Prevention Works! is a family planning initiative that expands access to preventive family planning health care services and education programs to help reduce unintended pregnancy, prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and improve women's health overall — all while saving scarce public health dollars.

    Prevention Works! will increase outreach and education so more eligible low-income women can learn about Texas' family planning programs. By expanding knowledge about state family planning programs, it is projected that thousands of low-income women will learn about access basic, preventive services like well-woman exams, contraception, screening for sexually transmitted infections, and screening for breast and cervical cancer.

    Did you know that "According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, for every $1 spent on family planning, $3 is saved in Medicaid costs for prenatal, delivery, and first-year infant care. Medicaid currently pays for more than half of all births in Texas, costing millions of public health dollars each year"?

  • support Education Works! (HB 741/SB 515):
    Currently, Texas law does not require schools to provide sexuality education courses. If a school does choose to offer a sexuality education course, Texas mandates that the program must stress abstinence as the preferred behavior for unmarried persons as a way to prevent unintended pregnancies and STIs. Unfortunately, most of abstinence-only sex education programs in Texas schools often give misleading or outright false information about condoms and contraceptives, leading teens to believe that condoms and birth control are not effective.

    HB 714/SB 515, also known as Education Works!, would require schools to still discuss abstinence but also require information be included alongside about testing and prevention for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and complete, medically-accurate information about the health benefits and risks of contraception and condoms.

    Additionally, these bill includes strategies to encourage young people to develop healthy communications with their parents and peers, and help build other living skills such as goal setting and responsible decision-making about sexuality.

Did you see that last part, about building living skills and about responsible decision-making about sexuality?

Look, unless they're planning on turning to a life of the cloth, everyone will have sex at some point. Do we teach this in college? It wasn't part of my liberal arts degree (and if it should be part of any non-medical degree, wouldn't it be part of the liberal arts?) Please, let's give women the information they need to take care of their bodies, regardless of when they choose to have sex.

For more info on these bills, or to take action even if you can't go to Lobby Day, visit Planned Parenthood of North Texas's site or visit Education Works!

NARAL Tweeted some interesting links today:

Where to pass the torch? Those of us who have grown up post-Roe v. Wade don't understand what the women before us had to go through to secure the rights we take for granted. While some of us write our Congresspeople when ugly bills come up, how much of a commitment are we willing to make? Will there be enough of us to carry the torch when the generation who gave us these rights retires?

And some good news! Obama Aims to Shield Science from Politics, lifting the ban on funding for stem-cell research.
"The president believes that it's particularly important to sign this memorandum so that we can put science and technology back at the heart of pursuing a broad range of national goals," Melody C. Barnes, director of Obama's Domestic Policy Council, told reporters during a telephone briefing yesterday.

On a slightly related note... Catholic Church, you know why I hate you? Because of stuff like this: Catholic Church Excommunicates Doctors for Aiding Raped Child. Seriously, what is wrong with you?

While I'm on the subject of bills and laws and policies, I also read a ReTweet asking me to sign a petition to keep tax dollars from funding abortions. This petition blamed the Freedom of Choice Act as the culprit; please read this article to educate yourself about the FOCA, which pretty much merely upholds Roe v. Wade:

Freedom of Choice Act - Declares that it is the policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to: (1) bear a child; (2) terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability; or (3) terminate a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect her life or her health.

Prohibits a federal, state, or local governmental entity from: (1) denying or interfering with a woman's right to exercise such choices; or (2) discriminating against the exercise of those rights in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information. Provides that such prohibition shall apply retroactively.

Authorizes an individual aggrieved by a violation of this Act to obtain appropriate relief, including relief against a governmental entity, in a civil action.

(Text copied from the House version, but the Senate version says the same.) Also? According to THOMAS, neither bill has seen action since 2007 (May 4th and April 19th, respectively). We know the anti-choice side likes to deal with scare tactics and misinformation (as they do in their abstinence-only programs), but... am I the only one who finds all this a little silly? Getting your people all riled up over something that's not even happening? Isn't there a better way for you to spend your time, energy, and resources?

Trying to figure out how to close this post (looking for something a little more positive than the above), I saw this from the White House blog: Remembering Christopher Reeve.

*With apologies to Nathan Bransford for the blatant plagiarism.

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