Ohio’s War On Women: State Lawmakers Stall Sex Ed Bill To Focus On Anti-Choice Legislation

Despite the fact that voters across the country rejected radical anti-choice legislation in this month’s election, Ohio lawmakers have been busy reviving the War on Women during their lame duck session. Ohio’s Health And Aging Committee voted to strip funding from Planned Parenthood last week, Republican lawmakers introduced a misleading “sex-selective” abortion ban at the same committee meeting, and Ohio’s Senate may soon consider an extreme “heartbeat” bill that represents the most restrictive anti-choice legislation in the nation.

And Ohio lawmakers are so focused on their radical anti-choice agenda that they don’t have time for practical legislation that would actually help lower the abortion rate. The Dayton Daily News reports that the House’s health committee gave a “complimentary” hearing to HB 338, which seeks to establish science-based standards for comprehensive sexuality education in the state’s public schools, but has no intentions of advancing the legislation:

In the final weeks of two-year legislative session, Ohio lawmakers are sparring over several bills related to abortion and women’s health, leading to charges from Democrats that their Republican colleagues are engaging in a “war on women.” […]

Meanwhile, a Democratic bill that is being touted as a comprehensive sexual health and education measure, had its first and probably last hearing this week.

[Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R)] chairman of the House Health and Aging Committee, said he gave the bill a “complimentary hearing” on Wednesday, but it won’t go any further, at least not this year.

In fact, if Ohio lawmakers are so concerned about preventing abortions that they feel the need to target Planned Parenthood clinics, they might want to start with ensuring that students receive medically comprehensive information about human sexuality, the female reproductive system, and preventative measures like birth control and condoms. Equipping young adults with comprehensive sex education is directly related to helping prevent unintended pregnancies. The states that push abstinence-only education programs in their public schools — which often mislead students about birth control’s rate of effectiveness, and aren’t honest about the best ways to prevent sexually transmitted diseases — have the highest rates of teen pregnancies, while adolescents who actually receive instruction about prevention methods are 60 percent less likely to get someone else pregnant or get pregnant themselves.

A recent survey of the health classes in New York state’s public schools found that they have “shocking gaps” in their sex education programs, highlighting the need for standardized guidelines requiring up-to-date, scientifically accurate information across schools. Ohio’s school system could have the same kind of gaps — but, thanks to Ohio lawmaker’s insistence on prioritizing attacks on abortion access and Planned Parenthood funding, they won’t get addressed this year.