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Blogs Comment On Ryan-DeLauro Bill, Sex Education Funding, State Reproductive Health Legislation

The following summarizes selected women"s health-related blog entries.~ "A Taxing Problem," Jessica Arons, Huffington Post blogs: The five Democrats who last week sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) "suggesting a "common ground" solution to the abortion "roadblock" in health care reform" should be "applauded" for keeping the debate"s focus on covering the uninsured and "for being unwilling to sacrifice health care reform on the altar of abortion politics," writes Jessica Arons, director of the Women"s Health & Rights Program at the Center for American Progress. Arons adds that while the proposal, led by antiabortion-rights Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), "is in welcome contrast to the stonewalling and ultimatums coming from Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and his allies," it is "based on a misguided and attenuated definition of government spending, and it conflicts with what Americans want and expect from health care reform." She continues that the "suggestion that a health plan might offer abortion coverage, and it might be used by someone, who might have paid a lower premium than someone else, because the government might have helped pay their premium is a horrible reason for Congress to carve out an explicit exception to a bill that is otherwise entirely silent on coverage options." Taxpayers "do not have the right to specify how their tax money should be spent," she writes, adding, "I understand why people would want to withhold their taxes from purposes they oppose, but our system does not -- nor should it -- work that way" (Arons, Huffington Post blogs, 7/30).~ "The Breakup of the Pro-Life Movement," Cristina Page, Birth Control Watch: Rep. Ryan is "in many ways a typical pro-life American" who opposes abortion rights and, "like most pro-life Americans, ... supports every effort to prevent the need for it," including contraception, Page writes. However, because of his support for contraception and sponsorship of the "Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act," Ryan was "banished" from the board of Democrats for Life of America, Page writes, adding that antiabortion-rights publications have "taken to qualifying his pro-life status as "allegedly" pro-life or referring to him as someone "who claims to be" pro-life." The bill, also known as the Ryan-DeLauro bill, would increase funding for contraception, and support comprehensive sex education and services for women who choose to carry unintended pregnancies to term, Page writes. She notes that the bill is supported by "many prominent pro-life individuals" and groups that support abortion rights, though "[n]ot one leading pro-life group signed onto the bill." Page writes, "Pro-life Americans favor expanding access to contraception because of the undeniable pro-life results," adding, "Unintended pregnancy is the root cause of abortion. We know when used properly, contraception works." It is "time for the disagreement over contraception to be addressed by the pro-life community at large," she writes, adding, "We will have no chance of making a real impact on unintended pregnancy and abortion rates without dramatic, informed strategies on prevention" (Page, Birth Control Watch, 7/28).~ "Senate Subcommittee: Ab-Only Out, Syringe Ban Still In; Advocates Hope for Further Changes in Conference Committee," Jodi Jacobson, RH Reality Check: The spending bill approved yesterday by the Senate Appropriations Committee "zeroes out funding" for the Community-Based Abstinence Education program, which has "for years [been] the main of support for now-discredited abstinence-only programs," Jacobson writes. The "elimination of these funds parallels similar action in the House, ... so unless amendments are proposed, accepted and passed during either the full committee vote or on the Senate floor, this bill spells "the end of abstinence-only programs as we know them," said one advocate, "at least for this year,"" Jacobson writes. The Senate version of the bill allocates $104 million for a teen pregnancy prevention initiative "along the lines of what was proposed in President Obama"s budget earlier this year," Jacobson writes, noting that the House version allocates $114.5 million. The Senate bill also directs the funds be given to the Office of the HHS Secretary, while the House allocates the money to the Administration for Children and Families, Jacobson writes, adding that some advocates want the money to go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, giving the funds to HHS "will ensure greater oversight on how the funds are used and by whom, without necessarily cutting ACF completely out of the picture," Jacobson writes. "Another issue still to be addressed is the scope and breadth of the teen pregnancy initiative," Jacobson writes, adding that "[f]or now, the advocacy community is delighted at the elimination of abstinence-only funding" (Jacobson, RH Reality Check, 7/29).~ "State Trends: Sex Ed, Family Planning and Fetal Personhood Dominate," Rachel Gold/Elizabeth Nash, RH Reality Check: Numerous reproductive health bills in state legislatures have "been the subject of debate and action," Gold and Nash write. In the first six months of 2009, 875 bills related to reproductive health were introduced nationwide and 33 laws in 27 states were enacted, they write, noting that "[t]hree significant trends have emerged, in the areas of sex education, funding for family planning services and the efforts to recognize a fetus as a person." Eighty bills in 28 states have been introduced regarding sex education, with three states -- Hawaii, North Carolina and Oregon -- enacting laws to promote comprehensive sex education programs. "Enactment of these measures brings to 17 the number of states that require information about contraception to be included in their sex education programs," they write. In addition, cuts to family planning funding were defeated in three states, while four were able to pass such cuts, they write. Abortion-rights opponents "have used two distinct strategies in their attempts to build on earlier efforts in Colorado and South Dakota to establish fetal personhood" through ballot initiatives, as well as with abortion counseling laws in 10 states, they write (Gold/Nash, RH Reality Check, 7/30).~ "Pregnant Women and Mothers Deserve Better," Lynn Paltrow, Huffington Post blogs: "In the aftermath of Dr. George Tiller"s murder, many people have asked whether antiabortion rhetoric constitutes "hate speech" or an "incitement to terrorism,"" Paltrow, founder and executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, writes in the Post. Whether "it is hate speech" or not, it "reveals a frightening degree of anger, disrespect for and hostility not only to the people who perform abortions but also to those who have abortions -- pregnant women," Paltrow writes. She continues that "when individuals and organizations use this language, тЂ¦ they are not just describing a procedure or the small number of doctors who provide women with abortion services," but also "the millions of pregnant women who have had and will continue to have abortions, whether or not there are any doctors left alive to provide them safely." Paltrow notes that 61% of women having abortions are already mothers, so "we need to ask -- do the people who use this language really think the mothers who have had abortions are the same as, or worse than, those who carry out torture, kill children and commit mass murder?" Paltrow suggests several ideas for countering this language: asking "spiritual, religious and political leaders to give a sermon or speech explaining the difference between the personal decisions women and their families make and government-sponsored genocide;" using "res offered by the Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom to counter the elaborate and well-funded college campus programs arguing that the collective actions of pregnant women and mother[s] are worse than any genocide;" and "[i]f you have had an abortion and given birth, experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth, adopted or raised a child -- tell your story with a picture, a sign, a one minute or less video and we will post it at advocatesforpregnantwomen.org/mystory." She states that President Obama in his Notre Dame commencement address asked, ""How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?,"" concluding that one way "is to share NAPW"s video and its message: People can oppose abortion without equating pregnant women and mothers, and the people who support them, with mass-murderers and baby killers" (Paltrow, Huffington Post blogs, 7/29).~"Catholics United "Condemns" Family Research Council Ads as Misleading," Jodi Jacobson, RH Reality Check: Catholics United on Thursday issued a press release that "strongly condemns "a new television attack ad campaign by the Family Research Council"s FRC Action lobbying operation that misinforms the U.S. public about health care reform,"" Jacobson writes. The release states that the ad is part of the "Stop the Abortion Mandate" campaign that is "using abortion scare tactics to turn pro-life voters against health reform," and, according to Jacobson, it "claims that draft health reform proposals now being debated would provide public funding for abortions." However, she says, "as CU notes in its release, and as has also been widely reported here," no ""health care bill contains any reference to abortion, let alone a mandate for public funding of abortion."" In addition, CNN notes that ""the current bill does not contain any provision for taxpayer-funded abortions,"" Jacobson adds. The press release states, "If the Family Research Council was truly committed to human life it would focus its efforts on ensuring that the tens of millions of Americans who currently lack health insurance can get the care

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