With the fever sweeping the city and region due to the Boston Bruins’ amazing run for the Stanley Cup, it was easy to miss the news in last Friday’s Boston Herald that the infamous Maria Talks website had been toned down. “We needed to pull back a little bit, and add a more cautious and medically accurate tone,” said Department of Public Health (DPH) Commission John Auerbach to the Herald.
Before I get to the bad news, let me first congratulate all of you who complained to Governor Patrick and to your own state legislators. Without the Boston Herald expose, the pressure from citizens and legislators, and the work of pro-family groups like MFI and Massachusetts Citizens for Life, this dangerous content downplaying the seriousness of abortion would still be on there.
We commend the DPH for updating the language dealing with abortion on the website. We are also happy to see that the website now features a disclaimer page stating that the material on the website is “pretty intense” and that not “everyone is ready to deal” with the topics being discussed. It tells possible visitors who are “not yet a teen” they “might not want to visit” the website and advises teenagers with concerns to talk to their parents or another adult before clicking through to the full website.
However, these are only first steps. There is still offensive and insensitive content on this website. Minors shouldn’t be counseled to get abortions without the consent of their parents, and young girls should not be referred to Planned Parenthood, a for-profit company that is the nation’s largest provider of abortions.
The website also continues to be filled with crude and lewd language. Simply because adults believe that this is the best way to speak to teenagers, a state-sponsored website should not contain such sexually explicit language. Period.
Though the changes made are a positive move, and the MDPH deserve credit for that, we strongly believe that not enough changes have been made. This website does not deserve state funding, and the AIDS Action Committee should not be contracted with to create such a website. We continue to advocate for the website being removed completely since the necessary changes have not been made.