|February 7, 2013
Montana’s pro-choice community opposes bill to stifle comprehensive sex education
HELENA — NARAL Pro-Choice Montana and its partners in the Montana Reproductive Rights Coalition will testify against HB239, which seeks to severely limit access to sexually accurate information to Montana teens. The bill, sponsored by Representative Cary Smith (R-Billings) will be heard in the House Education Committee at 3 p.m. on Monday, January 28.
A similar bill sponsored by Smith, was passed by the 2011 legislature, only to be vetoed by then Governor Brian Schweitzer.
“This is not the first time the Montana legislature has grappled with this issue,” says Kim Leighton, Program Director for NARAL Pro-Choice Montana. “It is unnecessary and unwise to put limitations on age appropriate, scientifically accurate information that is available to teens. Our youth deserve to be fully educated on all topics pertinent to their future success as adults, and that includes comprehensive sex education.”
HB 239 singles out one curriculum area for burdensome regulation, and prevents qualified sex educators from entering the public schools based on the narrow ideology of a few individuals. It requires teens to seek parental consent to opt into sex education.
HB 239 would mandate restrictions on school districts by removing local control over the implementation of one particular curriculum area, sex education. It seeks to prohibit school districts from allowing any organization or its affiliates that provide abortion services from offering educational opportunities about comprehensive sex education, prevention, family planning, or healthy relationships.
Montana’s young people deserve medically accurate, age appropriate, comprehensive sex education. Anything less, puts them at danger of making uninformed decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives.
Comprehensive sex education saves lives and helps prevent unintended teen pregnancies. Approximately 750,000 young women in the United States – almost one in three – become pregnant before they reach age of 20. Research shows that teenagers who receive comprehensive sex education, that includes discussion of contraception, are more likely to delay sexual activity and to use contraceptives when they do become sexually active.