April 20, 2014

Repeal of Healthy Youth Act passes

Legislation repealing the state’s Healthy Youth Act is headed to the governor, after winning final approval in the state Assembly early this morning. The bill gives school districts offering sex education courses the option of stressing that abstinence is the only reliable way to prevent pregnancy and STDs.

But State Representative Sandy Pasch (D-Whitefish Bay) says the measure guts a law passed last session that requires schools offering human growth and development courses to teach about contraceptives and to use medically accurate information. Pasch says Wisconsin’s law has become a gold standard. She says many other states are now recognizing that students need to have that information to prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce their exposure to unwanted diseases.

Republican State Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) says the current law makes schools choose an “all or nothing” approach to sex education, and that could force them to teach nothing at all if district residents oppose that option. He says the bill returns local control so schools can teach a curriculum that suits their communities.

Trempealeau Democrat Chris Danou accused Republicans of letting their “ideology get in the way of reality.” He says lawmakers are kidding themselves if they believe kids are not having sex.

In an overnight session, the Assembly also signed off on a bill that bans any health care exchanges set up under federal health care reforms from covering abortion services. Democrats blasted the bill as part of an overall “war on women” and their reproductive rights. Republicans argue the measure is needed to prevent the chance of taxpayer dollars being used to fund abortions.

Both bills now head to the governor.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:07)