Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Against Health Education...really?

The Family Institute of Connecticut, our state's leading anti-choice organization is at it once again. This time they are opposing HB 5489, An Act Concerning Secondary School Reform and our attempts to have Connecticut mandate a one credit graduation requirement in health education.

Currently, Connecticut is one of fourteen states that do not require health education to graduate. Without a state health education requirement, schools may choose to cut or eliminate health education from their school’s budget during difficult economic times such as these.

In Connecticut, our low income and minority residents experience staggering reproductive health disparities, including greater risk of obesity, teen pregnancy, smoking, heart disease, poor prenatal care, and the list goes on and on. It is critical to teach health to our children as part of their ongoing education so they can develop the skills they need to make healthy choices.

HB 5489 is part of a comprehensive package of secondary education reforms that support Connecticut’s commitment to the national Common Core Standards Initiative and enhances our chances of receiving federal Race to the Top funds.

It is outrageous that the Family Institute of Connecticut, an organization that touts itself as ethical and moral is actively working against this important legislative measure.

Please contact the members of the Education Committee and let them know that you support a HB 5489!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Surgeon General Satcher: You Can't Have Good Health Without Good Policy

One day after President Obama vowed to do “everything in [his] power” to get health care reform passed in Congress, I had the opportunity to hear Former US Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher speak on the racial and ethnic inequalities in the United States’ health system at the Connecticut College 2010 Health Care Symposium. Satcher, who served as Surgeon General from 1998 to 2002, is the director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute, established in 2006 to develop a diverse group of public health leaders, foster and support leadership strategies, and influence policies toward the reduction and ultimate elimination of disparities in health.

The health disparities between blacks and whites in America are huge; in terms of life expectancy, infant mortality rates, incidence of heart disease, cancer, and other common killers, African Americans are consistently much more likely to face serious issues for which they receive lesser care. In the simplest terms, Satcher’s argument was this: disparities are real and their determinants are clear, but it is impossible to have achieve equality without policy reform.

With African American babies more than twice as likely as Caucasian children to die in their first year of birth, Dr. Satcher focused much of his discussion on the importance of infant mortality initiatives. These programs address education, nutrition, prenatal care, physical environment, social factors, the health of the mother and child, and other crucial forms of assistance. However, in our own state, Governor Rell's Midterm Budget Adjustments have proposed to eliminate all funding for Fetal and Infant Mortality Review.

As evident from Dr. Satcher's keynote, state-level assistance programs are crucial. In all, his talk was an important reminder that not just health care, but the entire health system are in need of reform. Though education and outreach are equally important in combating deeply entrenched inequality, good health requires good policy and thus we at NARAL are committed to ensuring sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice for all.