Texas has already spent the past year targeting Planned Parenthood, effectively defunding the organization’s affiliates and forcing thousands of women to search for new doctors. But their crusade isn’t over yet. Now, a Texas Republican also wants to prevent sex ed classes in public schools from using any of Planned Parenthood’s instructional materials, claiming that the national women’s health organization places an “inappropriate emphasis on sexual freedom.”
Sex education classes are not required in Texas. School districts that decide to provide that type of instruction must make their materials available for public review, as well as allow parents to remove their children from the course for any reason. But State Sen. Ken Paxton (R) wants to put even more restrictions on health classes by preventing “abortion affiliates” from providing any sexual health instruction or contraceptive resources.
Texans who back Paxton’s measure argue that Planned Parenthood can’t be trusted to provide sex ed because, since the organization doesn’t want to “lose abortion business,” it has a vested interest in convincing teenagers to have sex and get pregnant:
During Tuesday’s hearing on Paxton’s bill, Renate Sims of Round Rock told the Senate Education Committee she strives to teach her five children that “married sex and only married sex is appropriate.”
“Abortion providers like Planned Parenthood and their affiliates can’t possibly communicate this message effectively because of their inherent conflict of interest. If teenagers consistently viewed sex as something to be saved for marriage, Planned Parenthood would lose abortion business,” Sims said.
Although several speakers criticized the way sex education is handled in specific districts, no supporter of Paxton’s bill provided examples of Planned Parenthood materials or information that has actually been used in schools.
Planned Parenthood is an extremely qualified women’s health provider with a long history of providing sexual health instruction, although abortion opponents often undermine sex ed resources for youth with the sole goal of targeting Planned Parenthood. Even though the organization may not emphasis abstinence in its instructional materials, that’s because abstinence-only programs don’t work, and teens are better equipped to make healthy decisions when they have accurate, scientifically-based resources about their bodies.
If Texas lawmakers are actually concerned about preventing an uptick in unintended pregnancies, they might want to reexamine their own policies rather than focusing on Planned Parenthood’s instruction materials. Since GOP legislators stripped funding from family planning providers in the last budget cycle, about 280,000 low-income women will lose access to affordable birth control — which the state’s health department projects will lead to an estimated 23,760 additional births, costing taxpayers up to $273 million. And, of course, Texas’ lack of comprehensive sex ed requirements are likely directly contributing to the state’s high rates of teen pregnancy.