UK Scouting Association To Offer Basic Sex Edcuation
The Chief Scout of Britain’s Scouting Association, Peter Duncan, announced that age-appropriate basic sex education will be offered to scouts between the ages of 14 and 18 in a further effort to help scouts "Be Prepared." Duncan cited the increasingly early age that teens are becoming sexually active as a reason for instituting the sex ed guidelines, saying "[w]e must be realistic and accept that around a third of young people are
sexually active before 16 and many more start relationships at 16 and 17." Dr. Karla Bee who helped draft the guidelines says that STDs are too common and contraception underused among sexually active teens:
"At a time when 10 percent of sexually active teenagers are estimated
to have a sexually transmitted infection and 50 percent of teenagers
say they do not use contraception, it is absolutely right that The
Scout Association gives its young people the information they need."
Young People’s Minister Beverley Hughes welcomed the move as another way to help lower Britain’s high teen pregnancy rates:
our teenage pregnancy rates are coming down and are at the lowest rate
for over 20 years, there is much more to do to ensure young people have
the knowledge they need to prevent early pregnancy and look after their
sexual health," she said.
What Constitutes a Mother’s ‘Health’?
Margery Eagan of the Boston Herald writes that during last Wednesday’s final presidential debate "we saw vastly different attitudes toward women facing unwanted pregnancies." Senator John McCain claimed that maternal health exceptions have been “stretched by the pro-abortion movement to America to mean almost anything.” Eagan finds this claim to be a swipe at women, asking "[r]eally? I’ve heard this argued a hundred times. But where is the woman with the headache who aborted at eight months along?" Eagan was not the only one who was taken aback by McCain’s questioning of the long-established maternal health exception.
For his part Senator Barack Obama acknowledged that "[n]obody is pro-abortion" and stated that America, instead of taking an accusative tone against women facing unwanted pregnancies, should do its best to prevent women from facing that decision with preventative programs, like better sex education, and providing support to single mothers who want to go through with their pregnancy but fear they will not be able to support a child.
Eagan concludes with this thought:
The issue remains who decides: individuals or the state. Obama says
individuals. McCain says the state. And here’s the irony: The party
that preaches small government is the same party that wants government
intruding on American’s most intimate decisions.
Under South Dakota Abortion Ban Doctors Could Face 10 Years in Prison and a $20,000 Fine
Many physician’s groups have come out against the proposed South Dakota abortion ban because of the strict limitations placed on the doctor patient relationship and what some have decided is an undue liability burden with harsh penalties:
Opponents say the new measure would jeopardize the patient-doctor
relationship because physicians could be criminally charged for
exceeding its bounds. They also argue that its exceptions are too
narrowly defined and that it would force some women to carry an
Nicolay said the document "substantiates" her group’s concern about
the doctor-patient relationship because of the potential penalty of up
to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine for violating the ban.
it makes it very clear that there are times you have to do things on
behalf of the patient, and they’re going to have to call their lawyer
before they can do it," she said.
Some of the concerns outlined by opponents were echoed in an internal
memo from lawyers for Sanford Health, a Sioux Falls-based health care
system, to its executives that Amie blogged about late last week.
Anti-choice Groups Divided About South Dakota Ban
South Dakota Right to Life, one of the state’s oldest anti-choice organizations is not supporting this year’s proposed ban on abortion. The ban includes exceptions for rape and incest and for the health of the mother whereas a similar ban proposed and defeated in 2006 did not contain any exceptions:
"You have the issue of labeling someone being expendable," Holt (Kyle Holt, director of operations for the group) said.
"You can’t compromise who you are and what your stand for."
said the group has fought abortion for decades and has supported many
legislative efforts to reduce the number of abortions. Those include
strict procedures for informed consent as well as a recent law
requiring a clinic to offer to let a pregnant woman see a sonogram of
her unborn child before an abortion, he said.
"Those things do
save children in certain situations," Holt said, and they do it
"without labeling any life as less worth of protection than any other
But what about labeling the woman as expendable? An abortion law that would criminalize all abortions without any exception for the health and life of the woman would do just that. A woman could face a situation where her life is in danger and she would be forced to choose between a criminal abortion and her life. Forcing such a situation sends the unmistakable message that she is expendable, in one way or the other.
Madagascar Tackles its Family Planning Crisis
Women in Madagascar, especially in rural areas, have been calling for better access to contraceptives to help them better plan and manage their families. In rural Madagascar it is not uncommon for a woman to have eight or more children before she turns 30 years old:
"I often get women in the clinic who have had eight or more children
and are desperate to stop," said nurse Rebecca Hill, who has been
running a family planning clinic in Andavadoaka, a remote village in
southwest Madagascar, for the past six months. "They are all too
pleased to have a break, and family planning can allow that to happen.
But there is a huge unmet need for these facilities here, and that
needs to change."
Many girls in rural areas have their first child at 16, or earlier. According to the government, in some parts of the country 70 per cent
of 16-year-old girls have already given birth to their first child. In
recognition of the problem, the Ministry of Health has taken the
unusual step of changing its name of the Ministry to include family
planning as well as proposing an eight point plan to make family planning services more widely available:
The government has also made family planning one of the eight pillars
of the recently launched Madagascar Action Plan (MAP). This sets two
ambitious goals for family planning: reducing the average size of the
Malagasy family "to improve the wellbeing of each family member, the
community and the nation"; and comprehensively meeting the demand for
contraceptives and family planning. It plans to do this by making
contraceptives more widely available, providing educational programmes
and reducing unwanted teenage pregnancies.
The plan is about more than just making contraceptives available, it is also about empowering the nation’s women to make fundamental decisions that affect their health and lives:
"Society here still lacks some understanding of what women’s rights
are," said Andre Damiba, country director for Marie Stopes International. "We are raising awareness not just about women’s
rights, but about their economic and social interests and about how
they can take control of their lives."
The women are learning fast. "Family planning is
good for us," said Veleriny, a member of the Andavadoaka women’s
association. "It allows us to control when we give birth. Here some
women become pregnant every year."