Michigan Democrats in the House and Senate announced a new legislation package Monday that they say will reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, abortions, and STDs by making contraceptives and comprehensive sex education more widely available.
Sex education in Michigan currently varies from one school district to another. The legislation would require comprehensive sex education to be administered state-wide, beginning at middle-school age. The sex education would provide age appropriate, medically accurate information on abstinence, contraceptives, and STDs.
Under this legislation, health insurance plans that cover prescriptions would be required to also pay for contraceptives, and health care providers would be required to provide information on and access to emergency contraception to women who are sexually assaulted.
Similar legislation in Michigan has been met with opposition from conservative lawmakers and organizations in the past. However, proponents of the bill say that the data should change their minds. Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, D-East Lansing, and others pointed to statistics that show that “half of all pregnancies in Michigan are unwanted and one-quarter of them end in abortion. One in four teen-aged girls has a sexually-transmitted disease, they said.” Detroit News Sen. Whitmer and others also remarked that the problem of unwanted pregnancies, abortions, and STDs are most prevalent among young women who are poor, lack high school education, and who aren’t using contraception.
“There is one sure way to we can do something to change these numbers. That is prevention,” said Rep. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, who is spearheading the legislation.