By Christine McConville, Chris Cassidy and Laurel Sweet, Boston Herald
AÂ state-funded sex education Web site that tells teens an abortion is â€œmuch easier than it soundsâ€ has drawn fire from outraged pro-lifers who say mariatalks.com is glossing over ugly truths, steering teens toward the controversial procedure and counseling them how to keep mom and dad in the dark.
â€œThe commonwealth is using taxpayer money to tell kids how to get a secret abortion, and thatâ€™s wrong,â€ said Linda Thayer, a former Boston schoolteacher who is vice president for educational affairs of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, which this week took aim at the site.
â€œThis is a misuse of state funds, especially for parents who are taxpayers,â€ said Thayer, who also blasted the Web site for â€œdeception by omissionâ€ for describing abortion simply as â€œwhen the contents of the womb (uterus) are removed.â€
Mariatalks.com, featuring fictional hip teen â€œMaria,â€ who addresses teens in a breezy tone, has been produced since 2008 by the AIDS Action Committee with $100,000 annual grants from the state Department of Public Health. The money also covers a sex-crisis hotline and other outreach efforts.
AIDS Action Committee chief Rebecca Haag, in a statement defending the Web site, said, â€œWe feel strongly that the issues that are addressed through the Maria Talks Web site are essential in safeguarding the general, sexual health of youth by informing them of their risk for unintended pregnancies, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.â€
Maria tells teen readers abortion is a â€œhot topicâ€ but that the procedure is â€œmore common than you might thinkâ€ and â€œsafe and effective, though some people may experience temporary discomfort.â€ The siteâ€™s discussion of risk is limited to advising that it is better to get an abortion sooner rather than later.
Planned Parenthood declined to comment on the language used by mariatalks.com. However, the abortion providerâ€™s own Internet abortion advice includes a lengthy list of potential health risks â€” such as â€œinfection,â€ â€œblood-clotting,â€ â€œinjury to the cervix or other organs,â€ and â€œan incomplete abortion.â€
In another segment, Maria says to Massachusetts teens, â€œThe reality of getting an abortion is much easier than it sounds here.â€ In contrast, a more cautionary Maria counsels on another page that adoption â€œcan be pretty tough for some people, especially emotionally.â€
Of conflicted feelings over abortion, Maria counsels that one of her fictional friends found it a â€œdifficult decisionâ€ but decided the procedure was the â€œbest choice . . . for herself, her boyfriend, her family and her future.â€
To read more, visit:Â http://www.bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1332044
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