Errington: Sex ed ought to be a priority, especially if abortion is going to be severely limited in Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS - In advance of the upcoming special session, during which abortion restrictions will be proposed and discussed, State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) shares her perspective on the role sex ed has in this debate:
From my 17 years as the Public Policy Director for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, I know firsthand the importance of comprehensive sexuality education. With a potential abortion ban looming in Indiana, I’m concerned about the risks facing our young Hoosiers due to years of inadequate sex ed in our schools.
Indiana schools are not required to offer sex ed courses. For schools that do offer such classes, the coursework is not required to include medically accurate information. Further, schools that offer sex ed classes are required to emphasize abstinence. While abstinence is the only guaranteed way to prevent pregnancies and STDs, not all teenagers will abstain from sex. We must legislate on public health with data about how people are behaving, not using assumptions about how we think people should behave. Equipping young people with a full range of information is proven to lower unplanned pregnancy and STD rates.
To minimize harm, we need to teach our teenagers and young adults how to protect themselves and any potential partners. During my years at Planned Parenthood, young college men who simply wanted to keep their partners safe would seek information on contraception, because their school curriculum had lacked it. Young Hoosiers want to play their respective part in keeping down rates of unplanned pregnancy – but we’re failing them by not educating them.
Last session, I authored House Bill 1047, which would have required human sexuality education to be taught in state-accredited schools, and that students be given information on these subjects that are both age appropriate and medically accurate. It never received a hearing. If the supermajority wants to restrict abortion access in Indiana, we have an obligation to equip our young people with the education they need.
With the historic fight coming to the Statehouse next week, Hoosiers must remain vigilant. Indiana Republicans won't stop at restricting abortion access. Across the country, we’ve heard stories of lawmakers threatening accessibility to pharmaceutical birth control, in vitro fertilization and emergency contraception. Lawmakers must understand the danger ectopic pregnancies pose to women. Simply put: We cannot allow lawmakers to limit women's healthcare options.
I've been in this fight my entire adult life, and I'm not stopping now. I will continue to advocate for comprehensive, medically accurate sex ed in Indiana schools. I urge every Hoosier to contact your representatives and make your voice heard.
State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) represents Indiana House District 34.