Tag: coronavirus

Another Possible Victim of the COVID-19

By Charlotte Baron

Sexual Education in New York – another casualty.

New York State is one of the 21 states that do not mandate that sexual education (sex ed) be part of the required academic curriculum. Despite New York State’s image as a progressive bastion, there are no state standards – not even regarding birth control, std’s or simply saying “no”.  2020 was supposed to be the year that changed, with the passage of comprehensive legislation requiring age-appropriate sexual education instruction from K-12. But, now, with the coronavirus, budgetary challenges, and the rest of the legislative session in question, the young people of New York State may very well be forced to wait again.

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union ,  “Many public schools across New York provide sex-ed curriculum that is inaccurate, incomplete, and stigmatizing.” Other schools provide nothing. Much of the current curriculum fails to include education on sexually transmitted disease and LGBTQ+ students are often stigmatized or ignored completely. However, New York does have mandated HIV education, which may seem like a good thing but, in reality, isn’t because it is not required to be medically accurate. This can end up being more harmful than helpful. For example, in a local Westchester middle school,  the gym teacher assigned to teach about HIV told students they could contract it from sweat. Not since 1991, when Magic Johnson announced that he had contracted HIV, has such absolute unscientific mis-information been on such public display – and this was in an academic institution students are required to attend.

Sex ed is an extremely important and valuable subject that should be mandated in all schools. Research done by the Public Library of Science shows “that when sex education is comprehensive, students feel more informed, make safer choices and have healthier outcomes — resulting in fewer unplanned pregnancies and more protection against sexually transmitted diseases and infection.” Having sex ed taught in school gives students the ability to get clear concise answers to any questions they may have, instead of relying on the internet which can provide incorrect and confusing information, or parents who may be too self-conscious or ill-informed. A curriculum, which the teachers must follow,  alleviates any discrepancies between medical facts and individual opinions.  The Journal of Adolescent Health published research that found “that when sex education included information about contraception, teens had a lower risk of pregnancy than adolescents who received abstinence-only or no sex education.”

New York’s Senator Jen Metzger and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan have sponsored proposed legislation  S4884/A6512 respectively which would make age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education required teaching in NYS schools. The bill would require “comprehensive sexuality instruction for students in grades K-12 which addresses age and developmentally appropriate physical, mental, emotional and social dimensions of human sexuality and reflects the national sexuality education standards.” The bill was introduced to the New York State Senate in March of 2019 and since then has been moved to the Education Committee. It has yet to be passed by the Senate or the Assembly. The success of this legislation rests not only on its passage but also on adequate funding for implementation. Unfortunately, 2020 may not be the year that students in New York State receive quality and informative sex ed.

Abortion: An Essential Service?

By Charlotte Baron

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, officials have issued a rule that all “elective” surgeries, as well as non-essential medical, surgical and dental procedures should be delayed to preserve personal protective equipment, beds, and ventilators. Now, around the country, women wait as individual states debate whether abortion is an “essential” service or not. Instead of addressing abortion as time sensitive and a part of healthcare, too many state governments and anti-choice activists are using the pandemic as a means of advancing an anti-abortion agenda.

According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care. It is also a time-sensitive service for which a delay of several weeks, or in some cases days, may increase the risks or potentially make it completely inaccessible.”

There is radical opposition to that medical view from anti-abortion advocates. For example, in Ohio and Texas abortion clinics are being directed to be shut down during the pandemic. Ohio Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Fulkerson sent letters to three abortion clinics ordering them to “immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions. Non-essential surgical abortions are those that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient.” (This definition fails to address the reason for the abortion.) Officials at Women’s Med Center in Dayton and Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio said they would continue to provide abortion care despite State Republicans trying to stop surgical abortion procedures. The clinics responded publicly by stating that abortion is essential and they are complying with state orders to stop nonessential surgeries.

Texas is another state that is labeling abortion as nonessential. Texas Governor and anti-abortion zealot Greg Abbott declared that most abortions will be put “on hold” until at least April 21.  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “that anyone failing to comply with the Governor’s executive order faces fines up to $1,000 or 180 days in jail.”

As of now, there are still several states that have labeled abortion as an essential service and will continue providing them. New York State is one of the states that recognizes abortion is an essential procedure. All Women’s Health and Medical Services and Planned Parenthood are both on the front lines keeping patients and medical staff safe while serving a vital medical need. Meera Shah, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood in Long Island, Westchester, and Rockland – three of the hardest hit areas by the coronavirus – stated that Planned Parenthood’s doors remain open. They are following the protocol recommended by the CDC and the Department of Health. As described in The New York Clinics, All Women’s Health and Planned Parenthood are screening patients before treating them, limiting the number of people allowed in the waiting room and making sure they are six feet apart. All family, friends or clinic escorts must wait outside until the appointment is over.

It is clear that as more anti-choice state governments use the pandemic as an excuse to limit access to abortion, women’s health will suffer.