Prevention First legislation
Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the Indiana state legislature has dealt with over 150 bills that would restrict access to abortion (including almost 20 bills and amendments in 2008 alone!) and less than a dozen that would help people prevent unintended pregnancy and thus reduce the incidence of abortion.
While the idea of increasing access to birth control and honest information about sex has been introduced in the US Senate (read about the federal Prevention First package) and in the Indiana Senate, the legislation has yet to pass through both houses at either level and continues to scratch the surface of the law.
However, the hard work of Planned Parenthood supporters in Indiana throughout 2008 has paid off—2009 is the first year that Indiana has made a break-through in both legislative houses! In the Senate, all four pieces of the Prevention First legislative package have been authored, introduced and referred to committees. In the Indiana House of Representatives, three pieces have been authored, introduced, and referred to committees!
Throughout the 2009 Indiana General Assembly, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana will be working to ensure Hoosier support of the Prevention First legislation. Want to help? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and see below for other things you can do!
Dispensing drugs by pharmacies: Senate Bill 20, authored by Sen. Sue Errington and House Bill 1238, authored by Rep. Vanessa Summers
All across the country and right here in Indiana women are reporting problems in accessing contraception at their local pharmacies. We've had numerous reports from women whose legal, valid prescriptions for birth control have not been filled due to a pharmacist’s personal views on contraception. In some cases the pharmacist confiscates the prescription. While we respect the views of others, including those of individual pharmacists who are morally opposed to birth control, access to contraception is critical for women who desire to plan their pregnancies and should not be hindered due to personal morality. We propose that:
- Pharmacies (as an institution, not individual pharmacists) must ensure that a patient's prescription be filled, or find and refer the patient to another pharmacy which will fill the prescription. If individual pharmacists oppose contraception or other drugs for non-medical reasons, they must report this to their employer in writing upon passage of the bill, and the pharmacy must make arrangements for its patients' prescriptions to be filled in a timely manner, either by ensuring that another pharmacist on staff can fill the prescription or referring the patient to another pharmacy which will fill the prescription. The bill will prohibit pharmacies and individual pharmacists from confiscating lawful prescriptions.
Definition of Contraception: Senate Bill 103, authored by Sen. Vi Simpson
As the debate over abortion grows more fierce and legislative attempts to define in law that "life begins at conception" become more prevalent, common contraceptives are at risk of being classified—and restricted—as drugs that terminate pregnancy as opposed to preventing it. Nearly 98% of American women of reproductive age use contraceptives at some point in their lives. Access to contraceptives is critical to the prevention of unintended pregnancy and to reducing the incidence of abortion. Indiana ranks 49th in the country among states' efforts to prevent unintended pregnancy. We can elevate Indiana's rating and the health of Hoosier families by protecting and promoting access to contraception. We must do this not only in our state's policies but also in practice. We propose the following:
- The state of Indiana recognizes that Hoosiers have a right to obtain and use safe and effective methods of birth contrnol without governmental interference, and further recognizes that contraceptives do not constitute abortion; therefore it shall not be the policy of the state or its agents to regulate or restrict access to birth control beyond controls necessary to ensure public health and safety.
Parental Notice of abstinence-only education: Senate Bill 258, authored by Sen. Jean Breaux and House Bill 1317, authored by Rep. Linda Lawson
The Get Real! Indiana Coalition recently conducted a survey that found that Indiana's public middle and high schools are leaving crucial topics like contraception, STDs, and sexual assault out of the conversation in their sex education programs. In fact, the survey revealed that less than half of survey respondents were providing state-mandated HIV / AIDS prevention information. Education is the key to equipping young people with the tools to delay sexual intercourse or, if and when they become sexually active, to be responsibly sexually active through use of contraception for disease and pregnancy prevention. Comprehensive sex education, which incorporates the full spectrum of sexual health topics is preferred. However, the best first step is to ensure that parents are informed about what their teens are and are not learning at school. This can be achieved by encouraging a dialogue between schools, parents, and students. We propose the following:
- All schools inform parents of students in abstinence-only programs exactly what those students are NOT being taught.
Medically Accurate Requirement: Senate Bill 309, authored by Sen. Karen Tallian and House Bill 1093, authored by Rep. Greg Porter
Indiana spent over $2 million (federal dollars) on abstinence-only programs in 2005. Abstinence-only programs are based in ideology, not science. While there is great value in teaching young people how to delay intercourse, it is irresponsible to provide false or misleading information to Hoosier children and teens. It is in the best interest of all Hoosiers to ensure that only medically accurate and factual information is provided by the state, whether it is in public schools, after school programs or through organizations offering programs on behalf of the state. We propose the following:
- Any recipient of state funding that provides information or offers programs regarding sex, family planning, pregnancy counseling, or sexually transmitted diseases shall provide medically accurate, factual information that is age-appropriate and that includes information on both abstinence and contraception for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV / AIDS. "Medically accurate, factual information" means that all medical, psychiatric, psychological, empirical, and statistical statements provided are verified by scientific, peer-reviewed research and recognized as accurate and objective by professional organizations with expertise in the relevant field, such as the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
It's a very simple equation: when you lower the rate of unintended pregnancy, you lower the rate of abortion. The Prevention First bills we've outlined above contain reasonable, common-sense policies that could actually help Hoosiers prevent unintended pregnancies and thus reduce the incidence of abortion.