President Trump’s administration has launched a series of insults and attacks on women in his short time in office — from history’s most expansive global gag rule on abortion to Trumpcare, the worst healthcare bill for women in a generation.
His appointments to the Department of Health and Human Services have only added insult to injury. Trump has appointed some of the nation’s worst anti-women’s health extremists to top cabinet posts in the agency, including the designation of birth control skeptic Teresa Manning to lead the nation’s family planning program.
And the administration’s newest HHS addition — Valerie Huber — is one of the most vocal advocates for harmful and misleading abstinence-only-until-marriage programs.
Huber was previously the president of Ascend, formerly the National Abstinence Education Association — a misnomer for anyone who believes education should include accurate information. The organization promotes programs that withhold critical information about birth control and condoms, and worse, often distort the facts. These programs leave teens at risk of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. In particular, young people who are sexually active have an immediate need for accurate information about their reproductive health and how to protect themselves.
The appointment is a slap in the face to women already threatened with reduced access to health care coverage and birth control — not to mention the vastly reduced access to safe and legal abortion across the country — as well as young people who need access to accurate health information. Having the information you need to make good health decisions is a human right, and withholding critical information puts young people at risk.
Our leaders need to support policies and programs that give young people the tools to make decisions to stay safe and healthy — not put up roadblocks.
Right now in this country, we are at a 30-year low for unintended pregnancy, a historic all-time low for teen pregnancy, and the lowest abortion rate since Roe v. Wade. It’s no coincidence that at the same time more people have access to highly effective no-copay birth control than ever before, and sexual health information is available 24/7 on PlannedParenthood.org — where 68 million people go each year for accurate, honest information.
Sex education is supported by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics — and by a majority of Americans, including more than 90 percent of both parents and teens.
Planned Parenthood is proud to provide sex education and health services that help teens plan their future and prevent both unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. As the nation’s largest provider of sex education, Planned Parenthood works in schools and communities across the country to provide quality sex education programs.
On the same day that the White House announced this new appointment, a Planned Parenthood patient was on Capitol Hill, talking to lawmakers about the importance of accurate sex education. Her name is Deja Foxx, and she is 17 years old.
Deja has watched as the young women in her community in Tucson, Ariz., miss out on the most basic information about sexual and reproductive health — information they need to plan their futures and chase their dreams.
And she took action, by showing up with a growing group of her peers at every school board meeting and pressing local leaders for better sex education. Deja and others wanted sex education to teach high schoolers safer sex practices, the meaning of consent and the issues young people can face on social media.
Today, after successfully working with leaders in her community for a change, Deja is sitting on a committee developing a new sex education curriculum for her school district.
Thank goodness we have young people like Deja, who won’t accept the bogus sexual and reproductive health policies the Trump administration is peddling. The White House should take a page out of Deja’s book and embrace reality, not the debunked ideals of anti-health advocates.
Dawn Laguens (@dawnlaguens) is the executive vice president and chief experience officer of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.
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