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The Forum > Article Comments > Sexual and reproductive health in crisis > Comments

Sexual and reproductive health in crisis : Comments

By Jenny Ejlak, published 29/10/2008

Australia has never had a comprehensive national sexual and reproductive health strategy.

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What do you expect? I don't see there being a national agenda for sx education, incorporating a scientific, evidence-based and secular model ever in my lifetime.

The religious right would have a coronary. Its cultural warriors from Andrew Bolt to Miranda Devine as well as right-wing politicians etc would be working to hijack it from day one. In states such as Queensland and WA, such a move could be politically suicidal. Witness the massive controversy blown up against reproductive health organisation SHINE in Adelaide.
Posted by Inner-Sydney based transsexual, indigent outcast progeny of merchant family, Wednesday, 29 October 2008 11:50:02 AM
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I agree with the last poster but I still think we have to try. I can't believe sexual health education in the Netherlands was without opposition and, according to this article, the Dutch program is one of the best and most comprehensive.

Sexual health education should be understood in the same way as we understand personal hygiene or nutrition. That is, it should be taught in as matter-of-fact ways as much as possible without puritanical moralising nor pornographic voyeurism (two sides of the same coin).
Posted by DavidJS, Wednesday, 29 October 2008 1:38:10 PM
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What an excellent article.
Good posts, too, from the 2 previous posters.

While I am Dutch and have received sex-ed in the Netherlands, my children received sex-ed at Australian public schools so Iím well aware how much the need for improvement in sex-ed is in Australia.

While the abortion rate in the Netherlands is very low (and there have been years when the rate was as low as 4 and 5 per 1000), it is a fact that most abortions are performed on immigrant women who have missed out on sex-ed. This is a clear indication how important comprehensive sex-ed is, especially when STI are increasing.

Iíve contributed to quite a few abortion articles this year and last year and have been pushing Ďcomprehensive sex educationí and have sustained that there are not too many abortions; there are to many unwanted pregnancies all this time. Iím glad to find that this topic has come up in an article.

It became clear to me after debating David Palmer, the Christian author of on of the abortion articles, that the priority of fundies is NOT the saving of foetuses, but the control of the sexual behaviour of people, especially women.
Realising that, it makes sense why the Christian fundies do not push for better sex-ed and free contraception but focus on stopping abortion only- not on prevention of unwanted pregnancies.

Abstinence-only sex education should be seen as child abuse. Children have the right to be informed about their own body, about the changes they undergo and the feelings that come with it. I find it unacceptable that some schools, religious or not, teach abstinence-only! There should also be proper discussion about homosexuality so that teens who are discovering they have homosexual tentencies don't have to fear their own desires.

Abstinence-only ed is a waste time and money; it has been shown not to work. It has no greater success rate than no sex-ed at all.
Posted by Celivia, Wednesday, 29 October 2008 9:50:15 PM
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It is certainly the case that religious fundamentalists are more concerned about controlling women's sexual behaviour than the welfare of babies and children. After all, lesbians are women least likely to have an abortion and many move heaven and earth to have children. But the religious zealots hate lesbians as much as they hate women who dare to control their own fertility. Incidentally, they also hate women who refuse sex with their husbands - but usually not the other way around.

In terms of the best sex education program, we have to look at outcomes. Do we want as few abortions as possible and children to be okay with homosexuality? Then consider the Netherlands. Do we want the opposite? Then go for programs run in the parts of the US. Or maybe zero tolerance for abortion, homosexuality and sex outside marriage? Then Saudi Arabia has the best program.
Posted by DavidJS, Thursday, 30 October 2008 6:47:49 AM
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The religious right both object to sex education and oppose abortion.

They thus cause most of the misery and then have the audacity to point at the no of abortions and say it must be stopped. It is the worst case of double standards I have ever seen.
Posted by Shadow Minister, Thursday, 30 October 2008 8:16:22 AM
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I can also see more of the religious right withdrawing their kids from government schools and going to private schools on the spurious notion that its the only place where they can be taught "values" whatever that nebulous term is supposed to mean.

Currently, as has been the case for years in government schools, to receive the sx education, parental consent must be received and notification is provided to all parents, this could be simply described as an opt-in system.

We should implement a default opt-out system, without a notification obligation, in order to reduce administrative burden upon schools and increase participation. There should also be, and in some states govt. schools are moving in this direction already, more scientific-based, evidence-based comprehensive sx education.

Meanwhile, could we also reduce private school funds annually by 25 per cent over four years, and then after four years, implement a total cessation of private school funding. All money saved should be redirected to government schools.
Posted by Inner-Sydney based transsexual, indigent outcast progeny of merchant family, Thursday, 30 October 2008 10:57:33 AM
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