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SIECUS Statement on the Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act


July 21, 2009
We want to thank Representatives Tim Ryan and Rosa DeLauro for their efforts to bring together, in one piece of legislation, several key programs and policies that seek to improve sexual and reproductive health in our country. The “Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion and Supporting Parents Act” is an important piece of legislation that we are pleased to support.
No legislation is perfect nor can it fully and satisfactorily address the plethora of dimensions that arise from the need to address sexual and reproductive health. This is particularly true in our own country that has too long been inclined to fight these issues out on the extremes of a culture war and whose rationale for continued battle has collapsed under the weight and need for real, concrete answers to move us forward.
This bill represents just such a step forward. First, it sets aside the false choices that the culture war has passed off for too long as the legitimate boundaries of discourse and public policy. And it does so by supporting common sense approaches that will empower individuals to make more informed, responsible, and healthier decisions for themselves and their families.
We are particularly pleased that comprehensive sex education programs have been included in the bill and that the language closely mirrors the language from the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act. The REAL Act remains the “gold standard” for funding comprehensive sex education programs and much of it has found its way into this legislation. Comprehensive sex education works and the American people support it. Moreover, our federal system will help ensure that funded programs respect community norms and values while also ensuring that funded programs cannot focus on the narrow approach of teaching only abstinence.
The bill would also reauthorize the Title X family planning program and provide a much needed boost in funding that has been too long in coming. Additional efforts to expand and clarify the role of Medicaid are also present in the bill and represent progress. Access to both education and services are critical pieces that work hand in hand to improve our nation’s health.
The bill would also provide much needed support for pregnant and parenting women to help ensure that they have the resources available to raise healthy children and that we are doing our moral best to break the cycle of intergenerational teen pregnancy and the poverty that too often accompanies unintended pregnancy.
Finally, we recognize that the framing of this bill creates discomfort for some in its potential to stigmatize the legally recognized right to abortion. We share your concerns, but believe the important pieces of this bill warrant our support. At the same time, we commit ourselves to the ongoing work with our colleagues to help ensure that all Americans have access to the full range of information and services to which they are entitled by right.