Rallies are planned throughout the country on Saturday including at City Plaza adjacent to Baton Rouge City Hall to protest what organizers are calling a “war on women” in legislatures across the U.S. The protest/rally is being conducted by a group known as Unite Women and targets a laundry list of legislative initiatives that include defunding Planned Parenthood, obstacles to obtaining abortion services and assaults on contraceptive access.

“We will not suffer the burdens of those whose ambitions would be fulfilled by the destruction of the human worth of mothers, sisters and daughters of this nation,” Unite Women national founder Karen Teegarden says in a press release announcing the rallies. “This war on women must be resisted and won before the toxic effects of the current national conversation become irrevocable reality.”

Meanwhile, Unite Women Louisiana Chair Ashely Baggett will appear before the House Education Committee on Wednesday to testify on behalf of House Bill 820 by Rep. Patricia Smith, a Baton Rouge Democrat. HB 820 would compel public school districts in Louisiana to include sex education courses as part of their standard curricula and that the curriculum include information on contraceptive use; currently sex ed is authorized, not mandated.

Smith’s bill attempts to ameliorate the religious right by stipulating that parents can opt their children out of the sex education classes, and it includes a caveat requiring abstinence be taught as “the most reliable way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.”

The debate over HB 820 comes on the heels of a report finding that states that stress abstinence and “abstinence only” as their sex education curriculum have higher teen pregnancy rates than states that require comprehensive sex education that includes information on contraception.

Read more on that here:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/11/states-with-abstinence-only-sex-ed-programs-rank-highest-in-teen-pregnancies/

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