N.M. abstinence classes called "antiabortion lobbying"
March 13 2004 12:00 AM ET
During the past three years, Best Choice Education Services has given abstinence-only workshops at no charge in 25 public middle and high schools in Albuquerque, N.M. But some critics, including Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, are charging the groups with using the classes to spread antiabortion propaganda. Best Choice's most controversial presentation is on teen pregnancy, in which students are shown a photo of a fetus and told details of abortion procedures. Best Choice executive director David Magruder says his group only presents the facts about abortion. But Susan Rodriguez, the parent of a student who attended the workshops, said they contain "distorted, inflammatory, antiabortion language."
According to Best Choice's literature, its main mission is to encourage abstinence. Magruder said Best Choice talks about contraception to show students "how ineffective it is." Lynn Pedraza, mental health services director of Albuquerque Public Schools, said Best Choice "definitely puts a slant" in its presentation, which teachers balance with discussions of contraception. School district spokesman Rigo Chavez said the workshops adhere to the district's "Controversial Issues and Outside Speakers" policy, which allows speakers into schools to expose students to diverse opinions. Although schools are not required to notify parents of Best Choice workshops, some do.