Jim and group,
I hope you don’t mind, but instead of replying individually I thought I would address the group so we’re all on the same page. First, I appreciate your passion for your issue and upon reading your emails, I think you are correct. My position on these issues is relevant as I will have a say over the education choices of our young people. Health and reproductive education could potentially be one of those issues.
Also, Mr. Jacquith raises a good point – something I have prided myself on in this campaign – and that is “transparency”. During this campaign, whenever I have received a questionnaire from a group, I have submitted those responses and then posted my answers on my website – charliekennedy.org – for voters to read on their own time.
That said, this is my position on the topics you bring up…
I have mixed feelings on abortion. I think we all would like to see zero abortions, no matter what our beliefs. As an educator, I believe high schools (and in some cases, even in middle schools) is a good time and place to introduce kids to information on their own bodies, how to protect themselves,personal responsibilities and how to avoid becoming pregnant. This can include information on abstinence, birth control, and the dangers – physical and mental – of abortion. And this information should be provided to boys also, as their behaviors could drastically reduce unintended pregnancy.
Reducing unintended pregnancy reduces abortion – this we can all support. This is a very sticky political issue, but in my opinion, some of that age group is sexually active and we should make sure they should have as much information as possible so they can protect themselves. I do NOT, however, believe schools should distribute birth control.
In general, I think abortion after the first trimester should be completely banned. However, I can’t support a total ban as medical conditions arise. In addition, I worry about the health consequences that would befall a young girl who becomes pregnant, and feels like she has no other option but to find a “back-alley” abortion doctor. Being a high school teacher, I know the pressures young women are not only feeling from their peers about sexuality, but I know the pressures they feel at home. As I said, this is a very personal issue for women to decide, and I am very conflicted. I feel there are many shades of gray to the issue and to say one is either “with us or against us” is detrimental to having an open discussion or educational forum on the issue.
Planned Parenthood – I would never support school money going to PP, public taxpayer money going to PP or allowing PP to hold any activities in a school setting. I am currently a high school teacher at Manatee High and I have never seen (or heard of) Planned Parenthood in any school in our county. I know our current school board would never let that happen in Manatee County. It may be happening in other counties or states but I can guarantee you this is not occurring in Manatee County schools.
I hope this covers the issues that have been brought up. If you have more questions, or comments, I invite you to share them with me – and the whole group. And Mr. Styer, I hope you will share this response with others if you will be forwarding this message on as well.
One final note… this issue is a deeply personal one for me. My mother, Rosemary, was like you… focused solely on abortion issue as a voter. She would only vote for candidates who were pro-life. She attended every March for Life in Washington, DC up until 1995 until her health made it impossible to travel. She passed away in 1997 at the age of 53. I don’t say this to tug at heart strings, but to let you know that I understand your position and the issue very well as I grew up in a pro-life household. While my mother and I never agreed 100% (as I’m sure you don’t agree with me either) we did recognize the common ground we shared on the issue and always loved each other just the same despite our differences.
I thank you for all of your questions and I look forward to more dialogue with all of you.