Chlamydia Education In Utah?

December 14, 2007

On the first Monday in March of 2010, a controversial bill was passed in Utah. The bill states that pregnant girls and women can be charged for murder if they miscarry due to "intentional or knowing" acts. The bill was signed into law by Utah governor Gary Herbert.

A week earlier, some media reports erroneously stated that an earlier bill, the "Criminal Homicide and Abortion Amendments" also known as HB12, which also applies to miscarriages brought on by "reckless" acts, had been withdrawn by Carl Wimmer, the Republican Representative who had sponsored this legislation. After Gov. Herbert said he was concerned about the, "possible unintended consequences," of the wording of this amendment, Rep. Wimmer was quick to submit a new version called, "Criminal Homicide and Abortion Revisions" (HB462),  which leaves out the word "reckless." Gov. Herbert affixed his signature to this new bill and vetoed the earlier version.

Sex Education

Just a few short days after Rep. Wimmer's bill was passed by an overwhelming number of votes, members of Utah's State Senate would not even deign to discuss legislation that would permit teachers to give sex education to students who had parental consent. The current law states that teachers may not endorse nor advocate the use of birth control says Melissa Bird, the executive director of Utah's Planned Parenthood Action Council. "If you teach about chlamydia, you're allowed to say, 'This is a condom and this is chlamydia.' The [new] law would have allowed teachers to say, 'If you’re having sex, you can use a condom to prevent chlamydia. Abstinence is the best way, but if you’re not abstinent, use a condom.'"

Meantime, on any given day in Utah, 12 adolescent girls from age 15 to19 become pregnant. That means that a large number of Utah teens are engaging in sexual activity. Those in favor of educating teens about sex point to the fact that chlamydia tops the list for the most reported communicable diseases contracted in the state of Utah. According to the state's Department of Health, there were 5,721 new cases in 2007. More than half of those 3, 748 cases (66%) were diagnosed in youths aged 15-24. But if that doesn't make you sit up and take note, think about this: kids in Utah are more likely to get chlamydia than the flu or chicken pox!

Morally Wrong: Not Knowing About Chlamydia

"Young girls are getting chlamydia and they’re not learning about it until they might be infertile," says Emma Waitzman, an 18-year-old senior at West High School in Salt Lake City. "That’s morally wrong."

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