Commentary: Better sex education in schools can help young people affected by the abortion ban

Recently, voters in Kansas adamantly rejected a referendum that would ensure more abortion restrictions in the red-hot state. Predictions that conservatives may pay the price in the next election have led to the Supreme Court’s decision in the Women’s Health Organization in Dobbs v. Jackson, which overturned the protection of

But while the abortion debate makes headlines, for many women, especially poor women, the battle for reproductive justice begins in the classroom and the battle for comprehensive sex education begins.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, only 29 states and Washington, DC have mandated sex education. Her 16 states are the only states that require information taught in sex education to be medically accurate. Meanwhile, 39 states require sex education to cover abstinence, and 28 of those states require abstinence to be emphasized. Before Dobbs’ ruling, it meant that many young people didn’t have enough tools and resources to avoid unplanned pregnancies.In the post-Roe world, unplanned pregnancies did occur. This means that student options are becoming more and more limited.

The battle for sex education in Texas, which has historically had one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the country, is being fought by people like Abril Vazquez, whom I first met while working on the 2018 documentary Reversing Roe. fought by people. Vasquez grew up in a Texas community where public schools and local governments emphasized abstinence-only education over comprehensive sex education. Vasquez, who became her twice single mother in her teens, has spent much of her adult life providing more complete sex education to high school students in Texas.

Although the US teen fertility rate has been declining since 1991, US fertility rates are still significantly higher than in other Western countries. Low-income girls are at greater risk of becoming young mothers, with data showing that nearly 20% of teenage mothers will have multiple children before she turns 20. Rise above one’s financial situation.

Before the Roe Act, women with the means had better access to abortion. Without these options, poor women’s futures are at greater risk, often choosing between finding an unsafe provider or giving birth without the means to support them. I was. Poor women are less likely to escape this vicious cycle of poverty when access to abortion is greatly reduced and when inconsistent and incomplete sex education is available to help young people prevent unwanted pregnancies. increase.

Federal education policy can have a significant impact on teenage motherhood. Many studies have found that abstinence-only education has little effect, but federal funding for such education has increased under the Trump administration. This was expected, as it tends to vary depending on the president’s political party, rather than being determined based on research as to which is most effective and most helpful to young people.

As someone who has interviewed countless pro-choice and pro-life activists, I know that good people can disagree on abortion policy. It is difficult to understand why some would consider it humane to deprive young people of the tools and resources they need to live and limit their choices when it comes to becoming one.

At a bipartisan meeting of Southern women’s Congressmen, I was once asked to address concerns that teaching comprehensive sex education would increase sexual activity, but the data consistently wasn’t true. Before children can legally get behind the wheel, we teach driver education to make sure they are ready and to I did note that I was making sure it was safe. Sex education is also a matter of life and death, so shouldn’t the same care and consideration apply?

In light of Dobbs’ decisions, sex education should be seen as defining reproductive justice issues and should be a priority for candidates in the upcoming elections. can elevate the sexual health discourse in our country by prioritizing this important issue on our platform.

For those serious about reproductive rights, supporting comprehensive sex education in more schools needs to elicit as much activism, advocacy and funding as abortion policy and other reproductive health issues. I have. As Republicans, Democrats, evangelical leaders and secular activists battle over the future of abortion in America, they are all offering young people the tools to make abortion less likely. You should be able to find common ground around the idea that you should. Unplanned pregnancies in the first place – regardless of the environment or region of birth.

Kelly Goff received two Emmy nominations for her production of “Reversing Roe.” She is a contributor to her KCRW’s “Left, Right.” & center. “

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