Testimony in Opposition to HB1540

TESTIMONY IN OPPOSITION TO HB1540
AN ACT TO PROMOTE HEALTHY BEHAVIORS

Joint Committee on Public Health
May 10, 2010


Massachusetts Family Institute is a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to strengthening the family and the traditional Judeo-Christian values upon which the family is based. We oppose HB 1540 because it would establish community based health and sexuality education services provided by comprehensive family planning agencies. The majority of family planning services belong to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider who is implicated in circumventing statutory rape laws and being supportive of human trafficking.

Charging community based health and sexuality education service centers with the writing and publishing of specialized education and outreach programs is fraught with ambiguity and potential abuse. Specialized education is not defined. It can mean an objectionable website with questionable accuracy, or a hotline staffed by unqualified volunteers giving advice to desperate teenagers. As a minimum such education should involve qualified medical or mental health experts, as well as educators.

The recent controversy of the MariaTalks.com website and hotline initiative by the Dept. of Public Health is an example this type of ‘specialized education’ and ‘outreach programs’ designed to educate minors about sexuality. This website does nothing to increase parental involvement and circumvents discussions between children and their parents by telling minors that there are ways to get an abortion without parental consent. The site contains inaccurate medical information and the materials made available are one-sided, lacking information on important topics such as abstinence, failure rate of condoms and post abortion syndrome, to name a few.

The MariaTalks hotline gives callers advice on a broad range of topics including suicide prevention, dating, STDs and abortion services, but there are no legal guidelines in place for staffing hotlines of this nature. At question is the accountability for content, age-appropriateness, medical accuracy, legal parameters, circumvention of parental rights and using offensive language to convey their message.

There is no system of accountability for these types of programs. Educational matters belong within the Dept. of Education established within the curriculum frameworks. Under the jurisdiction of the DOE, content in all subject matters are scrutinized and voted on. Parents, school board members, educators and administrators have significant input into content and age-appropriateness. The parameters established in this bill are best left with the DOE.

Please give HB 1540 an unfavorable report.

Sincerely,

Maureen Vacca
Director of Public Policy

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