by: Randy Payton

The Utah state senate has voted to pass House Bill 411 (by 16-13) banning any discussion of birth control in public schools around the state. The bill would also limit the teaching of sexual abstinence before marriage (and little else!)

Amendments to the bill included one by Rep. Craig Buttars, R-Lewiston ( requiring students to be taught that "any sexual relations outside of marriage constitutes criminal conduct." The amendment was approved as part of the bill.

House Democrats had earlier argued that the Republican-sponsored bill would take away the rights of parents who want their their children to be aware of how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, but to no avail.

Rep. Mary Carlson, D.-Salt Lake City and a former executive of Planned Parenthood: "Abstinence is a method of birth control that has a very, very high failure rate. It fails because people don't practice it."

Rep. Bill Wright, R-Elberta, the legislation's sponsor, argued that teaching students about sex was "just accomodating" immoral behavior. Wright declared. "Why do we want to put a bunch of methods out there when we have the best method --abstinence."

"We don't teach people how to be thieves," he said. (Rep. Wright can be e-mailed at

The bill now goes to Utah Governor Mike Leavitt ( to sign or veto.

Sources: AP and the Salt Lake Tribune

On Wed. Feb. 23 I gave a presentation of birth control and safe sex methods to a class of 20 students at the Kent State University campus in Ohio I attend. I dedicated my speech to the great revolutionary Margaret Sanger, arrested in 1914 in these United States (under the notorious Comstock censorship laws) for publishing birth control information in her newspaper THE WOMAN REBEL. She was later arrested again after founding the first birth control clinic in America in Brooklyn, New York in 1921. My point was to remind my audience that heavy dues were paid in the struggle toward today's reproductive choice for women. But of course no one was being arrested TODAY in America for teaching birth control, right? Wrong! Little did I or my audience know that at that very moment the Utah House of Representatives was considering legislation banning any mention of birth control (while damning all sex outside of marriage as "criminal") in that state's public schools' sex eduction curriculum.

One can only hope Utah will serve as a wake-up call as to how even our most basic, rational strides as a society made in the past 30 years in the area of sexuality and sex education are today being rolled back around the country by a rabid, 'know-nothing' campaign targeting the sexual and reproductive rights of women. R.O.C. stands ready to join with all individuals and groups committed to turning back this onslaught to drag America back to the dark days of ignorance, coat hangers and back alley abortions. In the meantime you can (still!) get your birth control and sex education information at the Coalition for Positive Sexuality's web site at For more on CPS and other issues sexual, go to: --R.P.

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