Sometimes, there just aren't words.

When this press release from the American Life League passed by my desk this evening, I couldn't even wave my usual fist, sigh my usual sigh, or give a good barbaric yawp. Screeds like this often leave me in that space, bizarrely feeling like I've been somehow redeposited in time to the McCarthy Era, but this one was a real doozy: I feel like someone dosed my dinner.

"We're Celebrating - And Planned Parenthood Knows Why, Says American Life League

WASHINGTON, July 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is an op-ed by Jim Sedlak, American Life League:

For the last week, we here at American Life League have been celebrating the enactment of a law in Missouri that deals, in part, with human sexuality education in schools. The specific wording in the new law that has us in a joyous mood is:

No school district or charter school, or its personnel or agents, shall provide abortion services, or permit a person or entity to offer, sponsor, or furnish in any manner any course materials or instruction relating to human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases to its students if such
person or entity is a provider of abortion services.

These words will block Planned Parenthood from being able to come into Missouri schools with its sex education programs. It cannot even provide its pamphlets or brochures for use in the schools. Thus, this new law shuts off a major means Planned Parenthood uses to get to Missourians' children.


We have always maintained that the Planned Parenthood sex education programs are the supply column to the abortion centers. Children learn it is okay to have sex, as long as they use Planned Parenthood's birth control products to reduce their chances of getting pregnant, and that it's okay to have abortions when they do get pregnant. As they pass through puberty and their hormones kick in, they begin to act on what they have learned in school. They get involved in sexual activity, buy Planned Parenthood products, get pregnant and have abortions. In fact, Planned Parenthood reports that a majority of those having abortions were using birth control in the month they got pregnant. This is a cycle that frequently repeats itself.

Any measure that cuts off Planned Parenthood's ability to teach its sex education programs interrupts the supply column and slows down the abortion juggernaut.

But Planned Parenthood's human sexuality education programs are not just about abortion. They are, in fact, programs specifically designed to bring new customers into Planned Parenthood's clinics.


Permitting a profit-based organization to come into a school and be given access to impressionable students for the purpose of pushing its ideology and its products is a clear conflict. --"

There's more to read here, full of some REALLY bizarre stuff (more bizarre and equally as stupid as going on about a profit-based organization in reference to a registered non-profit, or coming to the conclusion that somehow we've managed to grossly the planet for millennia even though, according to him, only since the dawn of sex ed in schools would any young person decide to go and have sex), but that sentence right there is what stopped me in my tracks before I could even utter a word.

Let's look at it again. Let's remember where these words are coming from.

" come into a school and be given access to impressionable students for the purpose of pushing its ideology and its products is a clear conflict."

I gotta say, on that senetnce -- and that one alone? I'm right there with you, Jim. I'm also wondering if there are mirrors in Mr. Sedlak's home, and if he's taken a good look in one lately.

If you've never read Sedlak before, just go ahead and do read the rest of the press release: I promise, however awful it is in terms of a total disrespect for women's rights, it's outer-limits enough that you'll laugh -- or just sit here with your jaw hanging open like me, who is still slack-jawed and thinking I've heard drunken homeless men in my neighborhood be more lucid -- more than you cry. But if you want to get REALLY creeped out? Go ahead and do a blog search on Google for him, and pay attention to how very many people actually give this guy the time of day.


You can't argue that Planned Parenthood doesn't have a political agenda. Of course, so does this guy. But ANY politically charged curriculum is inappropriate for a public school. Why can't kids just get the facts on how the reproductive system works, what the STDs are, and how contraception works? We don't have to endorse OR disapprove, and we certainly don't need to put a bunch of middle schoolers into the middle of the abortion debate!

"You can't argue that Planned Parenthood doesn't have a political agenda."

The fact of the matter is, this is a non-profit organization that provides services for millions of low-income women. In states where PP is lucky enough to reimbursed by Medicare programs under a state family planning program, the amount of money they are given per client really doesn't match the scope of care the females are receiving.

I don't see how providing middle schoolers accurate information on STI's, contraception, and the reproductive system is "politically charged", considering the information is coming from an exhaustive network of health care providers. Planned Parenthood does not freely advertise abortion or contraception services as extensively as such groups claim -- even if they tell kids where to go, is that such a bad thing, considering a teen's other options of relying on peers for health information, or worse, crisis pregnancy centers?

I'm not terribly sure what you mean by putting middle schoolers in the abortion debate when the campaign is simply to bring them comprehensive information based in scientific, medical and practical fact. Abortion is an option; that is a fact, and not one PP endorses more than any other option. Check out their excellent "Pregnant, Now What?" piece on the main site. I'm fairly sure you'll find it surprisingly unbiased.

Actually, PP is very open and honest about having a political agenda:

My point was that, by having an abortion provider be the source of sex education in a school, it puts students in an awkward position, especially if they come from pro-life homes. As I already said, I DO want them to receive accurate information. But there is no reason why that couldn't come from a non-abortionist ob/gyn, or from a carefully studied comprehensive sex ed program within that school district. It's not like Planned Parenthood, friends, and CPCs are a teenager's only potential sources of sex ed.

Planned Parenthood's agenda is to protect reproductive rights; hence their backing of candidates and policies who seek to uphold these rights. (I don't, by the way, see how that makes any difference in the educational materials/teachings they provide? All of the materials I've seen have not mentioned ANY political leanings or ANY abortion controversy that is provided to clients.)

They are not "abortionist", merely providers of information and services. Pro-choice does not mean abortionist. I'd encourage you to educate yourself on their goals through their web site; you'd see if you read the link I provided you that abortion is given equal thought and balance amidst all other reproductive choices.

PP is a group of health care providers, and some of the lowest-paid ones, at that, for the work they do. A teen sometimes can't go to an independent OB/GYN due privacy or cost issues; PP not only has the same quality care one would receive from a private provider at a lower or even free cost, their commitment to confidentiality is unsurpassed, and that's what appeals a lot to women.

I agree that a comprehensive program would give teens the education they need. But it simply would not be comprehensive without full, equal coverage of all information and reproductive options including abortion, and many would agree Planned Parenthood's efforts are as close to comprehensive as it currently gets.

I'm not an idiot- of course not all pro-choice people are abortionists. I never said that!

If you have an online copy of PP's sex ed curriculum, I'd be interested in reading it. However, according to the article, their literature lists reasons to get an abortion, but does not list downsides. Their online advice to pregnant women is mostly sound, but that's no guarantee that their educational literature is unbiased.

I realize that PP does plenty of things other than abortion and that their services help many people. I'm not saying shut them down. What I AM saying is that they don't belong in the education business. Bias in education is wrong, and abortion needs to be treated as a neutral topic- a stance incompatible with being either an abortion provider or an unborn life activist.

I never suggested you were an idiot, nor that you were calling all pro-choice folks "abortionist". However, you suggested PP WAS "abortionist" by suggesting teens seek the counsel of a "non-abortionist" OB/GYN versus information provided by a PP-affiliated instructor.

I don't have a copy of the literature distributed to schools; most of it is highly individualized seeing as to how PP cooperates with countless school districts across the nation to reach agreeable curriculum to teach. I can assure you that their website and the information therein, which is much more visible and available for scrutiny, does not significantly differ from the curriculum available to students and clients except where changed by state/district policy. You are welcome to contact them and request educational materials specific to your location to review yourself; I'm sure they would be happy to oblige.

I truly cannot understand where you have come to the conclusion that Planned Parenthood is biased. That SAME PAGE I linked you to provided equal support, thought, and resources for ALL pregnancy options; abortion WAS covered in a neutral manner. Did you, for example, see the suggestion at the very top that urged folks to consider their individual spiritual and moral beliefs in any choice made? The section of the site covering abortion VERY clearly outlines all procedures in a thorough manner without with-holding information or downplaying side effects. You'll also see a VERY exhaustive section on parenting preparation as well as adoption.

All we can resolve to do is provide information based on current scientific and medical fact; abortion, parenting, and adoption are ALL options, and what difference does it make who delivers the message as long as the information provided can be verified? More to the point, if it's not PP in the classrooms teaching, it's other instructors with the exact same format based on the same facts, and anyone who disagrees with current knowledge or has religious/moral leanings against abortion as an option -- or, perhaps, a child-free-by-choice teen offended by the option of parenting -- may choose to sit out.

"But there is no reason why that couldn't come from a non-abortionist ob/gyn, or from a carefully studied comprehensive sex ed program within that school district. It's not like Planned Parenthood, friends, and CPCs are a teenager's only potential sources of sex ed."

Well, for starters understand that the procedures involved in a surgical abortion are things which both every OB/GYN is trained to do in medical school and also which many will do for various reasons in their practice, including for surgical abortion. To boot, OB/GYNs and public sexual health experts aren't often the same people. Your average OB/GYN won't actually be the best person to do broad sex ed curricula, because most don't have backgrounds in public health specifically, many don't in a lot of sexuality, and/or the social issues involved. And if and when abortion is discussed, it strikes me as odd to suggest it's not ideal it be discussed by someone who knows explicity what it entails in process and for the patient.

Too, know that when orgs like PP come in to do sexuality and reproductive health presentations, that it is usually a SUPPLEMENT to a pre-existing sex ed curricla, not the whole of a curricula. To boot, based oin conversations I have had with PP workers and what I know of their curricula, most of their outreach programs for sex ed aren't even about abortion, but about preventative issues, as one would expect. (Take a look at the link I give you below for the R.E.A.L. Life Kit to see what I mean.) It also seems odd to me to suggest that an organization which has always been about outreach and public education as well as clinic services has no business educating: that's always been a big part of what they do, and it's an org pretty incredibly qualified to do so, especially given they are very in touch with the issues at hand because they work in the field.

Again, I'd urge you to really look at the source here. What that article says is propaganda. It is seriously ludicrous to think for even a minute that you could find a single Planned Parenthood worker who would walk into a school or up to a client in discussing abortion and cheerlead it, or only talk about pros and not cons. That'd stand very much in conlflict with their policies and their history. It's also really outer limits to suggest an abortion provider for a pro-choice -- as in ALL choices -- organization can't be neutral. In fact, it's their job to be when counseling clients considering abotion, and I've never met a single provider who didn't take that part of their job very seriously. Lumping in someone who provides abortions as an optional service with a person who is not a reproductive healthcare pro (and likely knows very little about anything to do with sexual and repro health, no less, OR who purposefully skews the facts to suit an agenda), and who is an antichoice activist is logically fallacious.

What you're suggesting about PP is a bit like saying that a doctor who deals with breast cancer patients and will sometimes do reconstructions is necessarily biased -- as much as a person who a) isn't working in the whole of the field anyway, and b) states they will NEVER reconstruct no matter what a women wants -- on the topic of dealing with breast cancer and whether or not to reconstruct, because since they include reconstruction as an option, they must therefore always applaud or endorse reconstruction. It's not sensible.

You can view some of the curricula for their programs here yourself right here:

I think having a look at some of that material and what they also endorse per curricula will make clear why it's so incredibly obvious (even if you don't know who guys like Sedlak and his organization are and what their history is like) that things like this are intentionally duplicitous propaganda.

It should, though, be a pretty easy tip-off even without that. For instance, Planned Parenthood doesn't manufacture birth control products: they have a line of condoms, but even those are not "for profit," nor something clients have to purchase: they're free. So, this guy stating that they're out there to get young people to "buy" their "birth control products" is a big, big funny to anyone BUT the uninformed people he's purposefully trying to incite.

To boot -- sorry to go on at such length -- do know that Sedlak and his org aren't clapping JUST because an organization which, amoung many things, provides some women with abortions can longer go into MO schools. That applause is also because it is yet one more closed door to us HAVING reproductive choice, and one more way to get to a point they want to get to where no one gets ANY information about all their reproductive choices, so that students only hear about the choices they (most of the "they," by the by, of those organizations are men, whose own choices will be in no way limited by women's choices being taken away, which is doubly noxious) want them to make for THEIR own agendas, agendas which are not only grossly uninformed in so many aspects, but which many choose to present as uninformed, even when they know better. Agendas which have all of nothing to do with the health and well-being of the actual students at hand, at all. So, I hear you perhaps saying that just having someone talk about the options pregnant women have who was not now or ever in any way an abortion provider or working for an org who provides them would be better in your book, but it wouldn't for Sedlak and his cronies, not at all. This is a start for them, not a stopping point.

(I gotta say, it's also pretty darned funny to suggest that teenagers have sexual development, then learn about sex in school and ONLY then want to go have sex. Considering the size of our population, and the fact that teen birth rates only started dropping with the advent of comprehensive sex ed forty years ago-ish, it should be beyond apparent how uncredible men like Sedlak are: teens through history have never needed sex ed as a directive to become sexually active, and teens who do not GET comprehensive sex ed, or any sex ed, aren't all sitting around not having any sort of sex because of the lack of education on it. What's far less funny are people reading statements like this and somehow not putting two and two together to realize they're listening to and reading someone who is either outright fabricating truths or who is utterly clueless as to the subject he's claiming to know so much about.)

Editor & Founder, Scarleteen: Sex Ed for the Real World
Author, S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-to-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and Col