Don’t politicize reproductive health issues

Posted on September 9, 2012

Greenville News, September 8, 2012 by Joyce Fishman Klein

How did you learn the alphabet? Did you learn that A is for Apples, B is for Boys, etc.? Today in the world of politics in this country we are learning a new alphabet: A is for Abortion, B is for Birth control, C is for Contraceptives, E is for embryos, F is for fertilization, L is for Legitimate Rape, and P is for Personhood, or Pregnancy.

Topics for political discussions should address the serious issues this country is experiencing such as high unemployment rates, high incidence of hunger and homelessness (especially among families), high sexually transmitted disease rates, high rates of school dropout, an enormous deficit, and a bloated government, but the focus today is on issues that do not fit any of the above urgent categories.

Let’s review how some issues have been addressed by government.

1. Sex education: In the mid 1990s, our “government” decided that the only way to reduce the very large incidence of teen pregnancy was to frame the issue as programs that teach “abstinence-only” vs. programs that teach about “birth control.” Then millions of dollars were poured into ineffective “abstinence-only” programs that taught medically inaccurate information. It didn’t work! The rate of teen pregnancies 10 and 15 years later had increased.

Programs are needed to enhance preparing youth for their future. They need knowledge about contraceptives for when they get married and want to space the birth of children. Comprehensive programs always taught that the best way for teens to prevent pregnancies is not to have sex. They also taught that oral and anal sex (risky behavior that teens were participating in because they were trying to abstain) could produce sexually transmitted diseases.

Fortunately the government is now funding some programs that have “proven track records,” and include medically accurate information. Perhaps if people like Rep. Todd Akin had a comprehensive sex education course, he would know what can happen when a couple has unprotected sex. (Yes, I know that he apologized.)

2. Family planning services: Government funding (Title X) for family planning services at the health facilities have been greatly curtailed and may possibly be eliminated. And thousands of women who get their annual GYN checkups, pelvic and breast exams, plus contraceptives and health education information on a sliding-scale fee are in jeopardy of losing access to these services because their provider is Planned Parenthood, a group that provides abortions in some locations (accounting for only 6 percent of its total patients). Many women cannot afford a visit to a private gynecologist. Why jeopardize the health of the other 94 percent due to narrow- mindedness?

3. Personhood legislation: In their zeal to try to outlaw abortion, there are legislators proposing “personhood” bills. The result of this legislation could eventually make (a) most methods of birth control, (b) in-vitro fertilization, and (c) stem cell research illegal.

How can one try to make both abortion and most forms of birth control illegal and not realize that this will produce an increase in unwanted pregnancies? This would cause the return of back-alley abortions, and a huge spike in maternal deaths.

Thank goodness the “personhood” bill failed in Mississippi, the state many thought would be the most likely to accept it. Let’s hope it also fails in all the other states.

In our society today, there is a severe lack of civility and respect. People are busy lashing out at each other, rather than looking for common ground. Legislators who talk to fellow legislators “across the aisle” are chastised for this, when more communication between legislators from both sides of the aisle could improve this country.

Some people think that their “way” is the right way and the only way. For example, in the Jewish bible (the Old Testament), life begins at birth, when at least the head and neck have come out from the womb. Regrettably a vocal segment of the U.S. population wants the government to command that life begins at conception, or even before then.

How dare the state of Texas demand that a women seeking an abortion needs to have an unnecessary vaginal probe ultrasound? Would current and proposed legislation be quite different if men were the ones who got pregnant?

My message to elected officials is: Stay out of our bedrooms and bodies!

Our government has no business politicizing reproductive health issues!