Private Practice Star Kate Walsh Joins Teens and Doctors to Urge Action
Washington, DC — ABC’s Private Practice star Kate Walsh joined Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) leaders today to urge Congress to stop playing politics with teens’ health and to start getting real about medically accurate sex education. Walsh appeared with PPFA President Cecile Richards, teen peer educators, and health education and medical experts at the “Stand Up for REAL Sex Education” congressional briefing today on Capitol Hill.
“Congress has yet to make the health and safety of our teens a priority, so it is left up to providers and educators like Planned Parenthood to fill in the gap,” said Walsh. “As a public figure, I can continue to be a vocal advocate and carry the message of the importance of comprehensive sex education, but organizations like Planned Parenthood, which boasts the largest network of sex education providers, are doing the real work of providing direct services to ensure teens remain safe and healthy.”
“The national policy of abstinence-only is a $1.5 billion failure, and our teen girls are paying the price,” said Richards. “The recent news that at least one in four teen girls has a sexually transmitted infection should serve as the final warning bell for lawmakers that we need to provide teenagers with the information they need to make responsible decisions.”
The briefing focused on the need for comprehensive, medically accurate, commonsense sex education programs. Mildred Gamez, a 15-year-old from Arizona, and Melissa Carrera, an 18-year-old from Maryland, spoke about the dangerous myths their friends and classmates believe due to a lack of comprehensive sex education. Both teens volunteer at Planned Parenthood health centers in an effort to help educate their peers about teen health and safety. Also speaking at the briefing were Scott Spear, M.D., medical director, Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma, and Bill Taverner, director of the Center for Family Life Education at Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey, and the co-editor of the American Journal of Sexuality Education.
“You would be amazed at some of the things my friends in high school believe about sex,” said Carrera. “But now that they know I volunteer at Planned Parenthood, they come to me to get accurate information. And they know that I understand where they’re coming from, because I’m a teen, too.”
“People were surprised by the CDC report on teens and sexually transmitted infections, but I certainly wasn’t, because this is what I see every day in the exam room,” said Dr. Spear. “The surprising thing is that we’re still allowing abstinence-only programs in our schools when they clearly don’t work.”
Seventeen states have rejected federal funds designated for abstinence-only programs. Recently, the CDC reported that at least one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted infection. In the wake of that report, more than 25 major newspapers across the country echoed Planned Parenthood’s call for an end to abstinence-only program funding and editorialized in favor of comprehensive sex education.
The briefing was supported by members of Congress from several states that have rejected funding for dangerous abstinence-only programs, including Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Chris Shays (R-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lois Capps (D-CA), Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Jane Harman (D-CA), James Moran (D-VA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Betty Sutton (D-OH) and Henry Waxman (D-CA).
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Chris Shays (R-CT) are all sponsors of the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act (H.R. 1653/S. 972), which will appropriate funds for programs that provide age-appropriate, medically accurate information on the values of abstinence and the health benefits and side effects of all contraceptives and barrier methods as a means to prevent pregnancy and reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV/AIDS.
Planned Parenthood has the nation’s largest network of sexual health educators, providing accurate, age-appropriate information to teens and adults in schools, health centers and communities nationwide. Congress should partner with Planned Parenthood to help prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, among teens.
Please check Getty Images for photos.
May 14, 2014