Republicans Put Ideological Guardrails on Health Information (video)

Should science or religion determine treatment?

The House had only four bills to debate on Wednesday, and two of them were retained on the calendar. We spent most of our time debating SB1456 and SB1254. Both of these bills are designed to limit public health information.

SB1456 is about sex education. You’ll remember that Arizona is one of the states that does not offer comprehensive, medically accurate sex education. (In fact, I have been proposing medically accurate sex education for years, and that bill doesn’t go anywhere.) SB1456 dictates what can be taught in sex education. It separates out information on HIV and AIDS and requires parental permission be given separately for that subject matter. Why? Because Republicans believe that teaching kids about HIV and AIDS would include mention of how one can contract these diseases, including sexual behaviors that they don’t want their children to learn about.

Historically, Arizona law has prohibited discussions of homosexuality and LGBTQ lifestyles as being an acceptable and “normal.” A few years ago, the Legislature eliminated the “no promo homo” language from statute because of a court case. SB1456 would put the anti-gay stigma back into law. There are a few moving parts to 1456, but the primary goal is to limit public health information on the full range of human sexuality. In the process, they are limiting health information on a deadly disease and keeping kids in the dark. A few years ago, the Legislature passed a bill that declared Internet pornography a public health crisis. Back then, I made headlines by saying if we passed medically accurate sex education, the kids wouldn’t be searching the Internet for answers.

SB1254 also limits what health information is provided to the public. SB1254 creates a website for adoption information and offers links to help pregnant women find services. This sounds innocent enough, but this website would send women to the fake pregnancy clinics that limit health information provided; use geo-targeting to track and market to women; and steer women away from abortion and toward religious organizations and certain churches. The Democrats have been fighting against fake pregnancy clinics for years. The fake pregnancy clinics are promoted by Cathi Herod of the Center for Arizona Policy.

Public health information should be honest, complete and unbiased — not tainted with political ideology. Pregnant women should be told all of the options that are available to them — not just the ones the Republicans find acceptable. School children should be taught about human sexuality — including the behaviors Republicans don’t like.

UPDATE: As of April 21, 2021, SB1456 passed both chambers of the Legislature but was vetoed by Governor Doug Ducey, after much public pressure. SB1254 was sent to the governor for his signature.

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