Concerned Women for America (CWA), a national religious-right group with an active Texas chapter, is accusing a federal judicial nominee of being a “radical” in part because of what she has written about abstinence-only sex education programs that promote gender stereotypes.

In an email to activists today, CWA President Penny Nance writes that the U.S. Senate should not confirm President Obama’s nomination of Georgetown University law professor Cornelia Pillard to serve on the U.S. Appellate Court for the D. C. Circuit. Republicans have been blocking a Senate vote on Pillard’s nomination. Nance calls Pillard “one of the most radical nominees we have ever seen to such an important court.”


Nance says that “Pillard’s disdain for women of faith is felt vividly on her views on abortion and contraception.” Apparently, that’s in part because Pillard dares to suggest that women have the right to seek an abortion and access to birth control regardless of the religious beliefs of their employers. But Nance also criticizes what Pillard wrote about the failures of abstinence-only sex education in a 2007 article titled “Our Other Reproductive Choices: Equality in Sex Education, Contraceptive Access, and Work-Family Policy.”

Nance quotes from that article in her email… Read More

TFN Insider is pleased to present this guest post from Rev. Beth Ellen Cooper of Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Church in The Woodlands north of Houston. Rev. Cooper participated in TFN’s clergy gathering in March in support of women’s access to birth control and state funding for family planning. She blogs regularly for the Houston Chronicle at Keep the Faith. Rev. Cooper also posted on TFN Insider about her experience in being lectured on morality by legislative staffers at the Texas Capitol.

Last Thursday, I attended a meeting of the Montgomery County Texas Eagle Forum, which featured reports on the latest special sessions of the Texas Legislature from state representatives Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands; Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe; and Cecile Bell Jr., R-Magnolia. This forum of ultra-conservatives was a proverbial lion’s den for a religious progressive like myself. But I am firm believer that there is no progress without dialogue, and no dialogue is possible if you don’t show up to ask the questions.

Besides. They sent an invitation to my church. It seemed rude not to accept.

So I went, in clerical collar, prepared to… Read More

Advocates of abstinence-only education policies argue that keeping teens ignorant about condoms and other forms of birth control and disease prevention will solve the problem of teen pregnancy in Texas. They often point to data showing that the state’s teen birth rate has declined since 1991 even while most schools have been teaching abstinence-only instead of comprehensive sex education.

But they’re not telling the full story. The teen birth rate has been going down across the country, and much faster than in Texas. Just look at the numbers.

New data shows that California’s teen birth rate, for example, plummeted from 71 to just just under 29 births per 1,000 teen girls between 1991 and 2011. Unlike in Texas, California schools teach comprehensive sex education. From the Los Angeles Times:

Public health experts say state laws are responsible for the decline because they require public schools that offer sex education classes to provide scientifically reliable instructions on how contraceptives work along with information about abstinence.

Reproductive health planning projects like the California Personal Responsibility Education Program are also credited with the lower numbers.

“We do believe that our programs are behind these numbers,” said Karen Ramstrom, the chief of the… Read More

We just sent out the following press release:


Comprehensive Sex Ed Offers Best Approach for Reducing Abortions in Texas

More than 5,000 Texans have added their names to a petition calling on Gov. Rick Perry to add passing effective sex education policies to the call for the current special session of the Legislature.

Representatives of the Texas Freedom Network are delivering the petition and names of 5,502 supporters to Gov. Perry today, said Dan Quinn, TFN’s communications director.

“If Gov. Perry really wants to reduce the number of abortions in Texas, the best way to do that is to ensure that young people get medically accurate information about birth control as well as abstinence in their high school sex education classes,” Quinn said. “In a state with one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation, replacing failed abstinence-only policies with more effective sex education makes a lot more sense than pushing divisive abortion legislation just to boost the careers of cynical politicians.”

The teen birth rate in Texas ranks fifth-highest in the nation. The state ranks first in the rate of repeat births to… Read More

A reporter from the Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News Capitol bureau caught a Texas legislator arguing Tuesday night that sex education gets previously chaste teens so “hot and bothered” that they can’t even use contraception correctly after rushing out the door to do some unauthorized field testing.

Check out the audio clip of the conversation among state Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, and state Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin. The three were speaking just minutes after the House State Affairs Committee approved legislation with extreme abortion restrictions that could cause most of the state’s clinics to close. Rep. Howard was explaining to her colleagues that responsible sex education, including information on birth control, would lower the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. Rep. Toth didn’t agree:

“My wife worked at a home for unwed moms, and one of the little kids that was born, his name is David. David came about as a result of his mom and dad, who were just 16 at the time, going to a Planned Parenthood deal where they taught them how to use contraceptives. They were not sexually active at that point. They got into the car, and they… Read More


WCA honored @BenavidezVal of @TFN with the 2020 Gene Barnwell Waugh Mentor #Award. Her communication #mentorship has been integral to building young leaders who mobilize & create grassroots advocacy. Learn more about the founder of Texas Rising