States Take Actions On Abortion, Breast-Feeding, Sex Education-Related Measures

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Abortion, Breast-Feeding, Sex Education

The following highlights recent news of state and local actions on women's health-related issues.

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Abortion

  • Missouri: Gov. Matt Blunt (R) on Friday signed into law a bill (SB 370)that would designate facilities performing second- or third-trimesterabortions or more than five first-trimester abortions each month as"ambulatory surgical centers," the AP/ABC News reports (Lieb, AP/ABC News, 7/6). Clinics with that designation are subject to increased regulation from the state Department of Health and Senior Services.The measure also would give public school districts the option ofteaching an abstinence-only sex education course. School districtspreviously were required to include information about contraception insex education classes (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report,5/23). In addition, the measure prohibits people affiliated withabortion providers from teaching or supplying sex education materialsto public schools. Blunt at a signing ceremony at Concord Baptist Churchin Jefferson City said the measure is "one of the strongest pieces ofpro-life legislation is Missouri history." According to the healthdepartment, under the measure three clinics will need to be licensed.According to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri,the group's clinics in Columbia and Kansas City will be affected by thelaw. PPKM is considering challenging the law in court, the AP/ABC News reports (AP/ABC News, 7/6).

Breast-Feeding

  • Pennsylvania: Gov. Ed Rendell (D) on Monday signed into law a bill (SB 34) that states breast-feeding cannot be considered an indecent exposure, nuisance, obscenity or sexual conduct, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reports (McCormick, Harrisburg Patriot-News,7/10). Some breast-feeding advocates said that the measure, which wasapproved in the state Legislature earlier this year, does not offer asmuch protection for women who breast-feed as some other states, such asDelaware and New Jersey, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Gebel, Philadelphia Inquirer,7/4). Rep. Babette Josephs (D) earlier this year tried to add aprovision to the bill that would have allowed women to sue anyone whoharassed or intimidated them for breast-feeding. According to the Patriot-News, Josephs agreed to drop the proposal to insure the bill's passage (Harrisburg Patriot-News, 7/10). According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Pennsylvania is the 39th state to protect the rights of women who breast-feed in public (Lyons, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review7/10).

Sex Education

  • Maryland: The Maryland State Board of Educationlate last month in a closed session approved a Montgomery County, Md.,sex education curriculum that teaches eighth- and 10th-grade studentsabout sexual- and gender-identity issues and that includes a condomdemonstration video, school officials said last week, the Washington Post reports (de Vise, Washington Post, 7/4). The Montgomery Board of Educationin January voted 8-0 to approve a pilot program to test the curriculum.Only students whose parents have provided written consent canparticipate in the lessons. The curriculum was tested at six schools inthe spring. A citizens' advisory committee in June asked SuperintendentJerry Weast in a June memo to add five statements concerninghomosexuality and same-sex attraction. Weast and his staff rejectedmost of the additions, but he said teachers would be allowed to tellstudents that homosexuality is not a mental illness or a disease ifthey ask about it. The groups Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, Family Leader Network and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays on Feb. 7 filed a petition against implementation of the curriculum with the state education board (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report,6/12). The state board in a 17-page opinion declined to "second guessthe appropriateness" of the curriculum and said it could reverse thecounty board's action only if it violated the law. The state panelreviewed more than 12 claims alleging the curriculum violated the lawbut did not find any violations, the Post reports. According to the Post, seven panel members signed the opinion and four abstained (Washington Post,7/4). Nancy Navarro, president of the county school board, said it isher "hope that the litigation in this matter will finally come to anend." Michelle Turner, spokesperson for CRC, said that many parents arestill opposed to the curriculum, adding it is "still an option" topursue the matter in court. The curriculum will be taught at all middleand high schools in Montgomery County beginning this fall, the Washington Times reports (Chick, Washington Times, 7/4).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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