When my neighbor told me that “Plan B” was the name he had picked for the sports bar he was opening, I just about choked. Until I told him, he had no idea that it’s the name of the morning-after pill; he went with the name anyway.
So I thought it very clever when I saw that the National Council of Jewish Women is calling its new campaign for contraception access “Plan A.” After all, if we have a Plan A, we won’t need to get to Plan B, right? “Plan A” is an outgrowth of NCJW’s activism on women’s reproductive health and a response to the U.S. Senate’s passage, last October, of a bill that allocates $50 million of new tax money to abstinence-only education programs.
Part of Plan A is the NCJW’s fact sheet on comprehensive sexuality education, which cites the public record when it states:
According to a report commissioned by Congress and released in April 2007, abstinence-only programs, specifically those funded by Title V Section 510(b) of the Social Security Act, do not have statistically significant impacts on the rate of sexual abstinence, the number of sexual partners, or the age at which sexually experienced youth first engaged in sexual intercourse.
I’ve long found it ironic that many of the same folks who oppose true sex ed and condom distribution in public high schools, and who work to prevent funding for contraception in congressional bills funding overseas development, are the ones working to undercut abortion rights in this country.
NCJW’s Plan A has several components addressing four prongs of the program: advocating for comprehensive sexuality education in public schools; making sure emergency contraception is available; making sure that young women are aware of their access to contraception and fighting the refusal of pharmacists — in at least 19 states, according to the NCJW documents — to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception.
According to this NCJW document, 46% of American women ages 15 to 19 years old have had sex at least once, and sexually active teens who don’t use contraception have a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within one year.
You can check out this Web site, “No More Money,” — a site sponsored by the Sexuality Education and Information Council of the United States — for more information about the history, funding and impact of abstinence-only sex education.
In this era of constant, focused efforts on federal and state levels to undermine the laws that protect a woman’s right to choose an abortion, as well as to fund and promote ineffective “abstinence only” education to teenagers, the tools for grass-roots activism that NCJW is putting in our hands are invaluable.
Now it’s up to us to use them.