Roundup: VIDEO: McCain Gets Testy in Defense of Sex Ed Ad

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Roundup: VIDEO: McCain Gets Testy in Defense of Sex Ed Ad

Brady Swenson

Video of a testy McCain defending his sex ed ad; Alaskan students band together for better sex ed; Britain's Channel 4 plans sex ed show for teens; Investing in women pays high ROI; Utah GOP calls for abortion ban; Palin's anti-abortion stance inspires donations to Planned Parenthood; and more.

McCain Gets Testy in Defense of Sex Ed Ad

Senator John McCain had a tense exchange with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register yesterday when he was questioned about his controversial TV ad that implied Obama supported explicit sex education for kindergartners. The lie asserted by the McCain campaign’s TV ad was that there are not a good reasons to teach kids to have healthy respect for themselves and their bodies, to teach them how to protect themselves from different threats at all ages in an age-appropriate manner. This is exactly the kind of politics that has created a stalemate in Washington. The kinds of stalemates that make working through, oh, say, a finanical crisis, almost impossible. (Video hat-tip to Talking Points Memo)


Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.

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Alaskan Students Band Together for Better Sex Ed

Students in Anchorage, Alaska are working to obtain 5,000 signatures on a petition calling for mandatory comprehensive sex education to be taught in the state’s schools:

"I know exactly how bad the sex ed was,
because I sat through it too," says [Amber Sawyer, a] 20-year-old Palmer Colony High
graduate. "We were not informed."

Sawyer, a junior at the University of Alaska Anchorage, wants to do
something about it. She, with other politically minded Anchorage
college students and even some local high schoolers, are banding
together to reform the way sex education is taught around the state.
They’re reversing roles and telling their parents and school
administrators that kids need more safety talk, not less. Their goal:
mandatory comprehensive sex ed in high school.

According to a
statewide study, 63 percent of Alaskan high school seniors in 2007
reported having sex. And, while Alaska has about average U.S. rates on
teen pregnancies, in 2006 birth rates for Alaskan and U.S. teens rose
for the first time since 1991.

isn’t the first time adults, teachers and administrators have heard
from kids who say they need more "real" information. Anchorage high
school students a year ago stood up in series of public forums at
schools across the city and said they wanted more instruction, said
Anchorage School District health curriculum coordinator Sharon

"It was interesting to me that it was brought up by students themselves," she said.

VIDEO: Comprehensive Sex Ed vs. Abstinence-OnlyVIDEO: Comprehensive Sex Ed vs. Abstinence-Only


Britain’s Channel 4 Plans Sex Ed Show for Teens

The British are also dealing with increasing teen pregnancy rates and are also engaged in a national discussion about sex education. Today Britain’s Channel 4, a private broadcaster, announced plans to air a ten part sex education series aimed at 14-19 year-olds and broadcast at 11am on weekdays:

It will tackle issues such as contraception, sexually transmitted diseases and masturbation.

‘alternative guide to sex education’ features two animated teenagers
from the fictional country of Slabovia, who examine a different topic
each week.

The 10-part series, a ‘journey of sexual discovery’,
will combine animated characters with footage of comedy clips taken
from TV shows.

Channel 4’s head of education Janey Walker defended the decision to
broadcast when young children could be watching, saying school teachers have been demanding more content on sex education to deal with teen and pre-teen pregnancies and other problems.

said: "Between ourselves and the Channel 4 lawyers, we have been
careful …. We feel that we can defend the fact that it is going out
in the morning. It might have a mixed audience but we very much aim to
make it acceptable to anyone that happens across it….We are erring on
the side of caution."

The broadcaster said the programme would be heavily "signposted" so that parents could make the decision to switch off.


A Letter to the Editor Worth Noting

Mark Goldberg at highlights a letter to the editor of the New York Times in response to a September 24 editorial, "Failing the World’s Poor."

While I applaud "Failing the World’s Poor" (editorial,
Sept. 24), neither the editorial nor most of the world leaders at the
United Nations who addressed the crisis in development made the
connection to what we know from research and experience — that
investing in women is one of the most effective ways to advance human
development. It leads to better outcomes not only for women and their
families, but also for the society over all.

Perhaps this is because there are only eight women heads of state
among the more than 190 world leaders represented at the United Nations
General Assembly.

June Zeitlin
Exec. Dir., Women’s Environment
and Development Organization
New York, Sept. 24, 2008

Goldberg adds:

It’s true. Check out this Christian Science Monitor article about a new study which argues "as women progress in developing nations, so do those countries’ economies." Read the survey,Girls Count, for more detailed data.


Utah Republicans Call for Abortion Ban

Members of the Utah GOP, led by state Representative Carl Wimmer, are calling for legislation that would "ban all abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or if the life or a bodily function of the mother is threatened." The bill to be introduced will be nearly identical to one that failed to pass the Utah legislature in 2007 and is similar to an initiative that will be on the ballot in South Dakota on November 4. Missy Bird, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Committee asked:

Is this Legislature doing
what the people want it to do? Do the people of Utah believe this is
the way to prevent abortion from happening in Utah?

An abortion ban was actually passed in Utah in 1991 but did not stand up to scrutiny in the courts and the state ran out of money to take its legal defense to the Supreme Court. Members of the Utah GOP say that this time would be different "because groups and foundations have already committed to backing the state."


Palin’s Anti-Abortion Stance Inspires Donations to Planned Parenthood

The Dallas Morning News reports that "31,000 donations totaling $802,678" have been made to Planned Parenthood in Sarah Palin’s name through this past Saturday. Patt Morrison, a Los Angeles Times reporter and radio host, came up with the idea of raising money for Planned Parenthood after Geroge W. Bush and said "she was delighted that her idea had been revived for Ms. Palin, who opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest."


Archbishop Criticizes Oregon Governor on Abortion

Archbishop John Vlazny sharply criticized Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski for hosting a fundraiser supporting NARAL "two days before the church conducts its annual ‘Respect Life’ mass in Portland."

"The archbishop is the governor’s pastor, and he has only respect
and admiration for the archbishop," Kulongoski spokeswoman Anna Richter
Taylor said. "They obviously disagree on the issue of choice."

Vlazny, calling abortion a "grave evil," urged Catholics to contact
Kulongoski’s office "to remind him of the demands of personal integrity
as a member of our faith community in the exercise of his office."


Special AIDS Vaccine Project To Begin in La Jolla, CA

The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA announced a $30 million grant yesterday that will fund the only AIDS vaccine research project "dedicated to the ‘neutralizing antibody’ approach, a promising way to develop an AIDS vaccine."

The five-year, 60-member project is funded by the International AIDS
Vaccine Initiative, a large philanthropy in New York. Several leading
AIDS scientists from around the world and their research staffs will
start working at Scripps in a few months, said Dennis Burton, a Scripps
immunologist and the program’s scientific director.


California First State to Require Coverage for HIV Screening

Yesterday Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law that requires every health care service plan and health insurer to provide coverage
for HIV testing, regardless of whether the testing is related to a
primary diagnosis.

“With the Governor’s signature of AB 1894 today, California once again
has demonstrated its global leadership in developing innovative
policies to fight the HIV pandemic,” said Assemblymember Krekorian.
“This legislation will set the standard throughout the nation by making
HIV screening a routine part of ordinary preventive health care.”