LIVINGSTON, NJ — With the threats to reproductive health care access becoming ever more real, according to a press release from NCJW/Essex, a program on Thursday, Jan. 26, “The Information Void: A Discussion of Reproductive Health Education,” drew a crowd of 200 people ready to take action.
The program, sponsored by more than 20 organizations in support of a woman’s right to make decisions about her own health without interference from politicians, also commemorated the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision ensuring a woman’s right to a safe and legal abortion. Attendees learned about the realities of what is and what is not taught in public schools about sexuality, the misinformation distributed to women seeking abortions via informed consent materials, and truths about “crisis pregnancy centers.”
Nicole Cushman, executive director of Answer at Rutgers University, explained that research shows that sex education works and has widespread support, but only 13 states require sex education to be “medically accurate.” Cynthia Daniels, professor of political science at Rutgers University and lead author of “The Informed Consent Project,” shared her findings that one third of all information in informed consent booklets in 30 states was medically inaccurate, untruthful or misleading. And Jen Boulanger, director of communications at the Women’s Centers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut and Georgia, addressed the proliferation of “crisis pregnancy centers” — religiously-based entities whose sole purpose is to prevent women from choosing abortion. According to Boulanger, these centers are unregulated and deceive women into thinking they are going to a medical clinic when they are not.
“We hosted this Lunch and Learn program to help people see that access to medically accurate, unbiased and factual information about reproductive health is essential to helping our children, teens and young adults develop into sexually healthy individuals,” Phoebe Pollinger, NCJW/Essex volunteer and co-chairwoman of the event, said in the release. “At a time when politicians are pushing reproductive health care access out of reach, these topics take on added importance. Our hope is to fill the information void with truthful and medically accurate information so our youth, both male and female, can make smart decisions about their health and their futures.”