Texas has become a laboratory for bad ideas when it comes to reproductive rights. In recent years state lawmakers have passed some of the toughest anti-abortion measures in the country, essentially making the procedure almost inaccessible for many Texas women.

The Texas Freedom Network supports efforts to ensure women have access to abortion and other reproductive health care services. That access requires adequate state funding and broad availability of birth control, especially for low-income women.

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The Latest on Reproductive Rights

As soon as this week, the U.S. Supreme Court could decide whether it will hear a challenge to Texas’ restrictive anti-abortion law. Also this week, far-right politicians will continue to push the notion that Planned Parenthood should be defunded even if it means shutting down the federal government, a move that retiring Speaker John Boehner has suggested ignores political realities and is deeply unpopular with the American public.

So here, attempting to talk some sense into those same politicians by using facts, is our friend Bill Nye the Science Guy.

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With all of the damage culture warriors on the State Board of Education have done — or tried to do — to the education of Texas public school students in their science and history classrooms, it can be easy to forget what they’ve also done on sex education. Today the online news magazine Slate posted the above video, which examines how two high school health textbooks from the same publisher address sex education — one submitted for adoption in Texas in 2004 and the other a decade earlier. That abstinence-only textbook from 2004, which doesn’t include a shred of information on contraception, remains in classrooms today.

Slate focused this video on the health textbooks from just one publisher, Holt, Rinehart and Winston. But publisher Glencoe/McGraw-Hill’s health textbooks were also abstinence-only. Holt and Glencoe essentially split the Texas health textbook market between them in 2004-05.

The State Board of Education hasn’t set an adoption date for the next generation of health textbooks for Texas public schools. We’re likely about five years away, at least. Meanwhile, Texas has the  one of the highest teen birth rates among the nation’s 50 states — the fifth highest, in fact, as of 2013. And the Texas Legislature still refuses to encourage school districts… Read More

Republican candidates in Wednesday night’s presidential debate threw out plenty of red meat for their base supporters. Among the biggest examples were attacks on women’s access to abortion care.

Candidate Carly Fiorina made one of the most bizarre claims when she said the deceptively edited anti-Planned Parenthood videos that anti-abortion extremists have been touting in recent weeks include this chilling scene: “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

“Pure fiction,” writes Sarah Kliff at Vox:

Fiorina is wrong: Nobody watching the Planned Parenthood tapes would see those things. I know, because I recently watched all 12 hours of footage.

The videos were produced by the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group that argues Planned Parenthood has profited from procuring fetal tissue for researchers. The videos do show Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue, sometimes in ways that are callous and jarring. But there is no moment where Planned Parenthood discusses procuring fetal tissue for profit, nor is there the scene that Fiorina describes.

There are two Planned Parenthood sting videos that were shot inside Planned Parenthood clinics (other videos exist, taped at conferences and… Read More

Faith leaders teach that lying is a sin. So why do religious-righters distort the truth so shamelessly in pushing their extreme political agenda? You can see at least two big examples in Texas right now.

One of the biggest falsehoods religious-right groups are pushing right now is the claim that Margaret Sanger founded Planned Parenthood to help exterminate the African-American population through abortion and other methods. Today the right-wing Texas Pastor Council, a political front group run by odious hate-monger Dave Welch, tweeted a partial quote from Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger:

“We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.”

We won’t help spread this nonsense by posting the full tweet here, but you can see it at the link above. The tweet includes a photograph and a phone number activists can call to demand that the Smithsonian Institution remove a bust of Sanger.

But wait. Did Sanger want to exterminate African Americans? Of course not. And PolitiFact has already debunked that claim as a ridiculous lie. It did so more than four years ago when checking a similar claim from Herman Cain, then a Republican presidential candidate. Cain had claimed that Planned Parenthood was guilty of genocide for planning to “kill… Read More

The Texas Home School Coalition is a religious-right front group more interested in promoting a political agenda and fighting the culture wars than in ensuring kids get a good education. An email today from the group’s leader, Tim Lambert, demonstrates that point pretty clearly.

The email to the group’s list touts a series of events around the state designed to rally opposition to protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people from discrimination. As we reported last month, the tour also targets “adversaries” who support access to safe and legal abortion care for women in Texas. Neither of these issues has a thing to do with homeschooling.

Lambert’s email today focuses mostly on opposing the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO), which includes protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as well as race, sex, age, military status and other characteristics. Lambert’s email claims that the ordinance represents a “radical homosexual position,” essentially arguing that protecting people from discrimination somehow threatens freedom:

I hope you will come to one of these gatherings in your area and listen to men and women of faith who are challenging Christians to become engaged in the battle for our culture and to protect our freedom.

Lambert also argues that passage of HERO last year and decisions in… Read More

Equality Texas

Any bill that carries the expectation that every Texan needs a birth certificate to use the restroom is an unenforceable bill. #TXLege

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