The Bush Administration continues to promote an "abstinence only" approach to reproductive and sexual health, significantly scaling back efforts to promote family planning and contraceptive use. Bush has taken several measures to restrict family planning services, both at home and abroad, since his inauguration. Most recently, an ordained Catholic deacon working with the Department of Health and Human Services questioned family planning programs that are designed by the Centers for Disease Control and aimed to help parents discuss sexual health with their children. He believes such programs run counter to the Catholic beliefs of HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson.
In the wake of significant reductions in teen pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, public health experts now question whether this approach stems from ideology or science. Marcia Swearingen, assistant director of the Why Know abstinence program, celebrated the programís $254,000 federal grant stating "I know itís not scientific, but weíre encouraged." Meanwhile, according to a 1997 study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, "there does not currently exist any scientifically credible, published research" that show abstinence-only programs delay or reduce sexual activity. In the same year, a panel on HIV convened by the National Institutes of Health claimed "abstinence only programs cannot be justified in the face of effective programs and given the fact that we face an international emergency in the AIDS epidemic."
For the current fiscal year, Congress approved a $20 million increase in funding for abstinence-only programs, a figure that is expected to increase to $30 million next year. Administration officials report that their goal is to spend $135 million on such programs, which would match the stagnant amount of funding allocated for family planning.
Media Resources: The Washington Post www.washingtonpost.com - July 30, 2001; NARAL www.naral.org
10/29/2014 North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Restrictions - The North Dakota Supreme Court yesterday upheld a set of misguided restrictions on medication abortion, allowing what is effectively a ban on early, non-surgical abortions in the state to go into effect immediately.
The decision overturned a lower court order finding the law, known as HB 1297, unconstitutional and permanently blocking its enforcement. . . .
10/29/2014 Georgia Court Refuses to Recognize 40K Voter Registrations From Primarily People of Color and Young People - A state court judge on Tuesday refused to order the Georgia Secretary of State to add some 40,000 voters to the voter rolls, potentially disenfranchising thousands of African Americans and other people of color in the state.
Judge Christopher Brasher of the Fulton County Superior Court denied a petition from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCR), the New Georgia Project and the Georgia branch of the NAACP asking the court to force Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) to process an estimated 40,000 "missing" voter registrations.
More than 100,000 voters were registered by the three groups, but about a third of those registered never made the rolls. . . .