The following highlights recent news of state actions on women's health issues.

Abortion Regulations
The Minnesota House on Thursday voted 81-50 to approve a bill that would prohibit taxpayer funding from being used to pay for abortions, the AP/Grand Forks Herald reports. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Laura Brod (R), also would monitor judges who grant judicial bypasses to minors, therefore allowing them to undergo the procedure without parental consent. In addition, the measure would require that physicians who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a hospital within 20 miles of the abortion clinic where they work. The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration (Lohn, AP/Grand Forks Herald, 4/27).

Sex Education
The Chicago Board of Education on Wednesday voted to approve a provision requiring all Chicago Public Schools to include sex education classes for sixth to 12th graders that emphasize abstinence and include information on contraception, the Chicago Tribune reports. Sex education regulations previously had been set by individual schools in the district. The new provision, called "Family Life and Comprehensive Sexual Health Education," requires a committee to design a curriculum that provides "age-appropriate and medically accurate information concerning the emotional, psychological, physiological, hygienic and social responsibility aspects of family life," according to the Tribune. The provision states that the curriculum should stress abstinence as the "expected norm" to prevent the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections as well as unplanned pregnancy. In addition, instruction on the use of contraceptives, as well as the mental and emotional effects of pregnancy and premarital sex will be required under the provision. The curriculum also will include the discussion of the financial responsibilities involved in child rearing, laws regarding the sexual activity of minors and appropriate actions to be taken in the event of sexual harassment. Board President Michael Scott said, "[T]he policies will be realistic based on (teen) practices." According to the Tribune, data show that about 6,000 infants in Chicago were born to teen parents in 2003 (Mendell, Chicago Tribune, 4/27).

Stem Cell Research
The Florida Senate on Thursday failed to obtain the two-thirds majority necessary to add an embryonic stem cell-related amendment to a medical research bill (HB 1027), the AP/Lakeland Ledger reports. The amendment would have required a state agency to develop ethical guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research, which is legal in the state but does not yet have state funding. State Sen. Ron Klein (D) -- whose attempts to appropriate state funding for embryonic stem cell research were "rebuffed" in the state Legislature this year -- offered the amendment, saying that guidelines should be in place for any embryonic stem cell research taking place in Florida, according to the AP/Ledger. However, some senators said the amendment threatened chances that the entire bill -- which would authorize $120 million in medical research over four years -- would pass. Senators voted 20-18 to approve the amendment but did not receive the required two-thirds majority (Royse, AP/Lakeland Ledger, 4/27).

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