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Where we share all of our emotions. About all of the states.

Just say NO to… Abortion?!

It’s basically the mantra of anti-choice lawmakers across the country and one that they’re now espousing inside the classroom. Currently there are two similar bills, one in Montana (HB 239) and one in Texas (HB 1057), that prohibits a school district from allowing any abortion services provider to teach sex ed in schools.  And of course, by abortion providers, they really mean Planned Parenthoods.

The bill in Texas was just introduced last week, and includes a ban on “any entity or individual that performs abortions or an affiliate of an entity or individual that performs abortions” from providing human sexuality or family planning instruction. Talk about a case of the scarlet letter (“A” for abortion, in this case).  The motive behind this piece of legislation is clearly to ensure any organization that is either a Planned Parenthood or any individual and/or entity that affiliates with Planned Parenthood is not welcome in Texas classrooms. It even reinforces stigma against abortion providers themselves, by actually banning individuals that perform abortions inside the classroom.  This lawmaker (and so many others) simply does not want a more comprehensive conversation about sex education, including contraceptives, even when the Lone Star State has the fourth highest teen birth rate in the country. The bill would also put an “opt-in” requirement for sex ed, meaning all students must obtain a written consent form from a parent or guardian to even be able to sit in the classroom.

Montana is in the same boat, except it’s just further along in the process. On Wednesday, February 6, the House passed a bill (HB 239) that would, like Texas, require parental permission before students can attend sex education classes (“opt-in”)  and also ban any “person, entity… affiliate or agent” that is a provider of abortion services to offer, sponsor, or furnish any course material on sex ed.  The definitions are broad enough to, again, be harmful to local Planned Parenthoods or any organization that affiliates with the group, that has a stake in sex ed curriculum.

And to round out the “don’t you dare affiliate with anyone who dare say the A-word” news in the states, we turn our head to North Dakota, where two researchers who were granted federal funds to evaluate a local sex education program had their funds frozen from the University’s president (North Dakota State University) because they had signed an agreement to work with Planned Parenthood. While he justified his actions because of a (vague and contested) 1979 state law that prohibits any federal funds being used by entities that provide or refer abortions, the real reasons seems to be political pressure more than anything. Once anti-Planned Parenthood legislators caught wind of the grant and made comments about cutting the University’s funding if it dared move forward with accepting the grant, NDSU president peculiarly decided to freeze the funds (and without conferring with the researchers OR anyone from faculty leadership), making the announcement on a local conservative talk radio show.

Texas, Montana, North Dakota FAIL.

Now here are some other states and my emotions about them.

North Dakota vs. South Dakota = STALEMATE

Apparently, the Dakotas have gotten together and decided they want to make it as hard as possible for women to have any type of access to abortion. North Dakota’s Senate just passed a Personhood Constitutional Amendment initiative on Thursday that would amend the state’s constitution to give legal rights and protections to human embryos. YUP, you read that right, the state’s CONSTITUTION. If it passes the house, North Dakota voters will decide on it in the 2014 elections. And then South Dakota decides to hop back on the anti-abortion bandwagon and introduced a bill that would redefine the 72-hour waiting period as to not include weekends or holidays, which could drastically eliminate access to safe abortion for women – especially since there is only one comprehensive women’s clinic that provides abortions in the entire state. So yeah… neither state wins this round this time around. Sorry, Dakotas. Better luck next time.

And the winner is…

…Colorado!

The state’s House Health, Insurance, and Environment committee passed a comprehensive sex ed bill last week (HB 1081) that would define sex education in the state as having to be age appropriate, culturally sensitive, evidence-based, and include positive youth development. It also creates a grant program and a cash fund to ensure the implementation of comprehensive sex ed programs throughout the state. Legislatively, it’s only part-way there (and there are Senate challenges ahead), BUT we should all give a round of applause for Colorado ‘cause they are on their way.

But the real winners are the activists who told their representatives why comprehensive sex education is important. Big high-fives go out to Colorado Youth Create’s youth activists, Scarlett and Adrian, who were the only high school students testifying during the hearing. Listen to their awesomeness HERE!

Do you have any rants or raves about things going on in YOUR state? Or maybe you live in one of the above states? Please share all of the feelings in the comments section below!

Curated by Diana Thu-Thao Rhodes, State Strategies Manager, Advocates for Youth