This week, we saw plans continue to honor Rush Limbaugh despite his offensive remarks regarding a Georgetown law student in Missouri and restrictions on abortion as well as sex education in Utah.
Despite Rush Limbaugh’s vicious attack on Georgetown law student, Sandra Fluke, Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives is still moving forward with plans to honor the right-wing sexist Limbaugh. Limbaugh is set to join the ranks of Mark Twain, Harry Truman, George Washington Carver, Sacajawea, and Laura Ingalls Wilder to name a few at the Jefferson City’s Hall of Famous Missourians with a $10,000 bronze bust of the radio talk show personality.
Even on his best day, Limbaugh does not deserve to be in the same breath as these amazing leaders. Think about the message it sends to young women hungry to get involved in the political process when a state honors a man who called a young college women a “slut” for voicing her opinion on health care. Honoring him at all is offensive but putting him in the same league as great men and women in our society is shameful. Despite an apology, Limbaugh’s show has already lost over 40 advertisers. There’s no reason why Missouri shouldn’t dump him as well. Sign our petition demanding Speaker Tilley stop his plans to honor Rush Limbaugh right now!
This past Monday, March 5th, the Utah House passed HB 461 requiring women seeking abortions to wait seventy-two hours between the initial consultation and the procedure. The bill was introduced by Representative Steve Eliason and passed by a vote of 59-11. The Utah Senate passed the bill last night, Thursday, March 9th, after just 53 seconds of debate by a vote of 22-6. It will be sent to Governor Gary Herbert who is likely to sign it into law.
HB 461 places unnecessary and burdensome restrictions on women in Utah. For starters, the bill triples Utah’s current wait period of twenty-four hours. The only other state to have the seventy-two hour wait period is South Dakota and it has been struck down through a preliminary injunction that found that the law creates an “undue burden” on women and limits their access to legal abortion services. Clearly a precedent has already been set that the seventy-two hour wait limit is an undue burden on women. In Utah particularly, Salt Lake County has the state’s only abortion provider. This means that women in rural areas must travel a substantial distance in order to obtain basic reproductive health care. Making that journey even harder by imposing a seventy-two hour waiting period is one of the reasons why this law is burdensome – it places a heavy emotional, financial and physical burden on women, forcing them to take time off from work and potentially time away from their families.
Additionally, HB 461 represents unnecessary government intrusion into the reproductive decisions of women and families, which Representative Carol Spackman Moss brought up as the only House member to speak against HB 461. She stated that the bill intrudes into private medical decisions.
Another bill sent to Governor Gary Herbert this week in Utah was HB 363. The bill would allow public schools to opt out of sexual education instruction and requires that schools that include it also teach abstinence until marriage curricula. Prior to the passage of this bill, school districts were allowed to set their own standards for sex education programs as long as these programs conformed to certain state standards. Instruction on contraception and preventing sexual transmitted infection were allowed as long as teachers also presented a “strong abstinence message”. Parents had to “opt in” to allow their children to participate.
The current bill forces schools to stress abstinence before marriage and fidelity within marriage as the only reliable methods of preventing Sexually Transmitted Infections. It prohibits instruction related to sexual intercourse, LGBT relationships, sex outside of marriage or contraception.
In forcing schools to conform their sexual education to abstinence as the only way to prevent STIs and limiting discussion of relevant reproductive health matters, Utah is ensuring that their students grow up confused and misinformed about sexual health, limiting their decision making ability and autonomy. They are also ensuring that when their students do decide to have sex, they will be ill prepared for the consequences including dangerous STIs and unintended pregnancies.