cross-posted from a buddy who didn’t want her name to be revealed.
Email to Senator Gaetz of Florida, Representative Patronis, Chair of the House Health Regulation Committee.
If you vote in Florida, please contact your representative and senator and teach them this important information. Our lives depend on it.
The bills in question:
HB 893/SB 1854 – mandatory ultrasound for all women seeking abortion.
HB 129/SB 310 – Florida PRevention First Act
HB 265/SB 220 – Florida Healthy Teens Act
The House Committee on Health Regulation just passed HB 983, mandating that doctors perform ultrasounds on any woman requesting an abortion, including the victims of rape, incest, domestic violence, and human trafficking—though these women are exempt from being forced to VIEW their ultrasounds or sign the written statement declining the viewing. This bill wastes valuable resources both of our citizens and potentially of our Medicaid funds providing unnecessary tests and invading the privacy of patients by interfering with the doctor-patient relationship. An ultrasound costs around $200 according to my insurance company’s estimates for my region. For so many women, the decision to abort is related to the prohibitive cost of raising a child. The average cost of an abortion from the same insurance estimate is around $400. The requirement of this ultrasound, which must be performed and paid for even if the woman declines to view it, increases the cost by half–a cost which so many wouldn’t need if we were properly addressing pregnancy prevention measures. Our physicians should be free to practice approved medical care in the best interests of their patients without having the legislature force them into costly decisions which are not based in medical interests, but in ideological doctrine. This bill also presumes the ignorance and questions the decision-making capabilities of women. A similar bill has been referred to the Senate Health Regulations and Health and Human Services Appropriations Committees as SB 1854. While this bill is not identical, it still represents an expensive and unnecessary breach of the doctor-patient relationship and a humiliating lack of respect for the reasoning capacity of women.
If it is your goal to reduce unwanted pregnancies, which should be everyone’s goal, the proper method, demonstrated by real evidence and not emotion is to promote the medically accurate education and preventive measures which will be instituted through the SB 310, the Prevention First Act, and SB 220 the Florida Healthy Teens Act. By properly educating our teens and making them into properly informed adults, we can better prepare them to make a real choice about their level of sexual risk, and even make an informed choice to stay abstinent. We also prepare them to protect themselves from STDs and unwanted pregnancy in case they do not choose to stay abstinent, especially in the case of so many of our young girls who may not have any choice in the matter at all. When I was in high school, my LMS teacher informed us that latex condoms have pores in them. These pores are larger than the HIV virus, and even larger than human sperm. The conclusion was that they were useless at preventing STDs and pregnancy, and the hope was that students would simply choose not to have sex. This information is patently false. Latex condoms do not have pores. They don’t have pores of any size, much less ones that are larger than HIV or sperm. Each condom is individually tested to ensure its impermeability. These are facts. My teacher gave us lies. I was, fortunately, better informed; but I wonder how many of my classmates are now dealing with permanent conditions like HPV, herpes, and even HIV/AIDS because of the lies our teacher told us. And that is just the beginning of the lies propagated in abstinence-olny education programs.
In 2004, Rep. Henry Waxman (D— CA), released a report about the state of abstinence-only programs. The report found that the curricula used by more than two-thirds of government-funded abstinence-only programs contain misleading or inaccurate information about abortion, contraception, genetics, and sexually transmitted infections:
The abstinence-only program Me, My World, My Future states, "Tubal and cervical pregnancies are increased following abortions." According to obstetric textbooks, previous abortions are not correlated with ectopic pregnancies (Cunningham et al., 2001).
Choosing the Best, The Big Talk Book states, "[R]esearch confirms that 14 percent of the women who use condoms scrupulously for birth control become pregnant within a year." In fact, when used correctly and consistently, only two percent of couples who rely on the latex condom as their primary form of contraception will experience an unintended pregnancy (Hatcher et al., 2004).
Why kNOw states, "Twenty-four chromosomes from the mother and 24 from the father join to create [a fetus]." Human cells are actually comprised of 46 chromosomes; 23 from each parent (Cunningham et al., 2001).
WAIT Training incorrectly states that HIV can be transmitted through tears and sweat. According to the CDC, HIV is only transmissible through blood, semen, and vaginal secretions.
The Waxman Report also found that many abstinence-only curricula even go so far as to blur the line between religion and science, and treat gender stereotypes as scientific fact (Committee on Government Reform, 2004).
Abstinence-only sexuality programs don’t work. There is little evidence that teens who participate in abstinence-only programs abstain from intercourse longer than others. It is known, however that when they do become sexually active, teens who received abstinence-only education often fail to use condoms or other contraceptives. In fact, 88 percent of students who pledged virginity in middle school and high school still engage in premarital sex. The students who break this pledge are less likely to use contraception at first intercourse, and they have similar rates of sexually transmitted infections as non-pledgers (Bearman and Brueckner, 2001; Walters, 2005).
Comprehensive sexuality education does work. Students in comprehensive sexuality education classes do not engage in sexual activity more often or earlier, but do use contraception and practice safer sex more consistently when they become sexually active (Guttmacher Institute, 2002; Jemmott et al., 1998; Kirby, 1999; Kirby, 2000; NARAL, 1998; Shafii et al., 2007). A recent congressionally commissioned study of students enrolled in four abstinence programs around the country found that the students reported similar numbers of sexual partners and similar timing on first sexual experiences — 14.9 years — as students who were not enrolled in abstinence programs (“Study: Abstinence…,” 2007; Trenholm et al., 2007).
Florida had nearly four thousand new AIDS cases in 2007 and nearly six thousand new HIV infections reported… and those are the people who know to get tested. We have the third highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the country. We are failing our citizens, and we are killing our children.
We cannot withhold information from our citizens and then hope they make the choice that we want them to make. We must teach facts to our students and then trust them to behave responsibly, even if they make choices we disagree with. But, then we must empower them to protect themselves and prevent unwanted pregnancy by making contraceptives accessible and affordable. According to the Guttmacher Institute, women who are having abortions are not failing to choose adoption. The adoption relinquishment rate has changed since Roe, but not in any causative correlation to abortion rates. In fact, when adoption rates have fallen, abortion rates have as well. The one truly significant factor in the drop in adoption relinquishment rates has been the unbelievable drop in adoption placement, partially due to increased successes in the field of infertility treatment. This drop in placement has resulted in greater numbers of unwed mothers, not greater abortion rates. Those who would adopt are not choosing to abort instead.
The best thing we can do to prevent abortions is to prevent the unplanned pregnancies that result in them. The way to do that is to guarantee medically accurate education in our schools and to guarantee the accessibility and affordability of contraceptive care, especially emergency contraception for women who may not have had a choice in their sexual activity. We must make it easy for these women to prevent pregnancies which may threaten to further victimize them when they are so very vulnerable. And, emergency contraception is just that, prevention. It is not a medical abortion. It will not terminate a pregnancy that has begun.
We have profoundly limited funds to address the devastating problems we are facing in this state. We have a mess of a budget and we are making it worse by wasting precious resources on programs and policies that not only don’t work–that don’t succeed in preventing premarital sex, abortions, or STD transmission–but actually put our youth and adult citizens at greater health risks and interfere in their medical privacy.
Senator Gaetz, please allow our physicians to practice the medicine they’ve been educated and licensed to practice and give our citizens the tools they need to make responsible choices. Please oppose SB 1854 and support SB 310 and SB 220.