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Source: Erin Doughty, erinkd@k-state.edu

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

NATIONAL AND STATE ADVOCATES TO DISCUSS WOMEN'S HEALTH CARE CHALLENGES AS PART OF K-STATE PANEL DISCUSSION

MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University's Students for Choice will host the panel discussion "Sex, Pregnancy and Politics" at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 16, in 106 Kedzie Hall.

The presentation, which is co-sponsored by Campus Progress, is free and the public is welcome.

Panel members will discuss the challenges that women face seeking health care in Kansas and other politically conservative environments.

Some of the topics to be discussed by the panel include the issues women face in Kansas when attempting to access reproductive health care, especially in rural communities that may not have a physician; issues with insurance for reproductive health care, such as no mandate for equitable coverage of contraception in Kansas; and the new law recently passed by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Sebelius that requires clinics to perform an ultrasound and give a woman the chance to listen to the fetal heart beat 30 minutes before an abortion procedure, as well as requiring the viewing of a video showing fetuses at different stages of pregnancy.

The panel features Shelby Knox, a vocal national advocate for comprehensive sexuality education; Holly Weatherford, Kansas public affairs manager and lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri; and state Rep. Sydney Carlin, Manhattan. The panel will be moderated by Kierra Johnson, executive director of ChoiceUSA.

* Knox was featured in the 2005 documentary, "The Education of Shelby Knox," which followed her in high school as she became an activist for comprehensive sex education in her hometown of Lubbock, Texas. At the time, Lubbock had the nation's highest teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection rates and was using the abstinence-until-marriage curriculum.

* Weatherford has been with Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri since 2007, and works closely with other pro-choice advocates tracking policy that would threaten choice and access in Kansas. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

* Carlin represents the 66th district of the Kansas House of Representatives. She was first elected to the post in 2002. She previously served as a city commissioner and mayor of Manhattan.

* Johnson has been working for ChoiceUSA in various positions since 1999. She originally started as a campus organizer at the University of Colorado. She also is a board member of Medical Students for Choice.

K-State Students for Choice was founded in September 2008. It is officially affiliated with ChoiceUSA, a national organization working to promote reproductive justice on college campuses nationwide. Campus Progress is a part of the Center for American Progress and works to help promote progressive student activities on campuses across the U.S.