The gloves are off in the race for Tennessee Senate District 22, according to the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle. In a direct mailer sent this week, Sen. Tim Barnes attacked Dr. Mark Green and his record with Gateway Medical Center.
The glossy, paid for by the Tennessee Democratic Party, claims that under Green’s management Gateway was the lowest-ranked hospital in the state and that Green was caught directing doctors to “cherry-pick” healthier patients to boost hospital profits.
But the claims in the mailer are based on out-of-date data and are not fair to the hospital, according to members of the hospital staff.
“He truly painted a picture that was incongruent with the current facts about Gateway Medical Center,” said William McGee, a cardiothoracic surgeon at Gateway.
The mailer cites data from a Consumer Reports article that claims Gateway was the lowest-rated hospital in the state and had a death rate higher than the national average.
But Gateway CEO Tim Puthoff said in a statement that the Consumer Reports article used old data that included only 37 of the 120 hospitals in Tennessee and Gateway’s mortality for August 2011 to July 2012 was in line with the national average.
In the statement Puthoff said he met with Barnes Friday and Barnes agreed not to mention Gateway in any further campaign communications.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Spurred by a classroom demonstration involving a sex toy, Tennessee recently enacted a pro-abstinence sex education law that is among the strictest in the nation.
The most debated section of the bill bars educators from promoting “gateway sexual activity.” But supporters seemed too squeamish during floor debate to specify what that meant, so critics soon labeled it the “no holding-hands bill.”
One thing missing from the debate in the Legislature was a discussion of whether the law signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam last month really would help reduce Tennessee’s high teenage pregnancy rate. Experts say it won’t and warn that it leaves teenagers inadequately educated about sexuality and prevention of pregnancy and disease.
Tennessee’s pregnancy rate among girls 15 to 17 has dropped steadily since the first abstinence-focused sex education curriculum was put in place in the 1990s, according to figures from the state Commission on Children and Youth. In 2009, the latest data available, there were 29.6 pregnancies per 1,000 girls, down from a rate of 48.2 in 1998.
Yet the state’s teen pregnancy rate remains one of the highest in the nation, according to the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization.
Now, I’m not saying that she’s founded in fact (see THIS, for example) but Trace Sharp has made an art form of sorts in satirizing the famous “Gateway Sexual Activity” bill. Recommended look-see, HERE and HERE.
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed into law the “gateway sexual activity bill, an event that drew some national media attention. Here’s a chunk of the MSNBC report: Tennessee teachers can no longer condone so-called “gateway sexual activity” such as touching genitals under a new law that critics say is too vague and could hamper discussion about safe sexual behavior.
Gov. Bill Haslam’s office Friday confirmed to Reuters that Haslam had signed the bill, which stirred up controversy nationwide and even was lampooned by comedian Stephen Colbert.
“Kissing and hugging are the last stop before reaching Groin Central Station, so it’s important to ban all the things that lead to the things that lead to sex,” he said on the “Colbert Report” television show.
But proponents say the new law helps define the existing abstinence-only sex-education policy.
Under the law, Tennessee teachers could be disciplined and speakers from outside groups like Planned Parenthood could face fines of up to $500 for promoting or condoning “gateway sexual activities.”
….David Fowler, president of the Family Action Council of Tennessee, which pushed the bill, told Reuters the law does not ban kissing or holding hands from discussion in sex education classes. But he said it addresses the touching of certain “gateway body parts,” including genitals, buttocks, breasts and the inner thigh.
On Thursday, State Rep. Jon Lundberg told NBC station WCYB-TV that a focus on abstinence is needed because Tennessee has the seventh-highest teen birth rate in the nation and the 11th-highest HIV infection rate in the nation.
“The shift is that the main core needs to be an abstinence-based approach. Not, ‘hey, I know everybody’s having sex, so when you have sex do this, do this, [and] do this.’ That’s not it,'” Lundberg told the station.
,,,Opponents, which include Planned Parenthood of Middle and East Tennessee and the state teachers’ union, say that before they can begin fighting the new law, they have to be able to figure it out. They worry that discussion of sexual behavior could be interpreted as condoning it.
“The very ambiguous language in this bill certainly puts teachers in a very difficult situation” when it comes to knowing what to teach, said Jerry Winters, spokesman for the Tennessee Education Association.
The thrust of sex education classes taught in Tennessee schools will stay the same under a controversial bill awaiting the governor’s signature, according to the Department of Education.
More from Andrea Zelinski: The so-called “gateway sexual activity” bill seeks to punish teachers and third-party groups that promote “sexual contact encouraging an individual to engage in a non-abstinent behavior” and rewrite state code to emphasizes abstinence education — both issues that caught the national spotlight this year.
“It really will not do much to change the current curriculum, the ways schools operate currently,” said Kelli Gauthier, a Department of Education spokeswoman.
Lawmakers easily passed the bill after much debate in the Legislature about whether abstinence education works, whether definitions of “gateway sexual activity” are too vague and whether teachers can get in trouble for not discouraging hand-holding, hugging or kissing.
The legislation points to the state’s current definition of “sexual contact” as “intentional touching of any other person’s intimate parts, or the intentional touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of … any other person’s intimate parts, if that intentional touching can be reasonably construed as being for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.”
“Intimate parts” is defined as “the primary genital area, groin, inner thigh, buttock or breast of a human being” in state law.
Gov. Bill Haslam said he’s unsure what action he’ll take on the bill. From his study of HB3621 so far, “I actually don’t think it’s a big departure from our current practice,” he told reporters last week after a groundbreaking ceremony for a new science building at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.
But bill sponsor Rep. Jim Gotto says the law’s current definition of abstinence isn’t clear enough.
Abstinence is “being interpreted as anything goes as long as your action will not result in a pregnancy. That’s exactly the way it’s being taught today,” said the bill sponsor, Rep. Jim Gotto, R-Nashville.
According to the U.S. Census, the percentage of Tennessee teen pregnancies is down 19 percent to 9,254 pregnancies in 2010. But the pregnancy rate is still among the top 10 in the nation.
It is far too polite, not to mention naive, to say members of the Tennessee General Assembly have their heads in the sand when it comes to sexual activity among teenagers, says Sam Venable in a column. Instead, I would suggest these esteemed solons have placed their heads deeply inside a private sector of their own respective anatomies. I shan’t specify the exact orifice by its common name for two reasons.
First, in a family newspaper, the word “ass” typically is restricted to archaic names for beasts of burden. Second, I’m afraid that mentioning this or any other private region in the context of Tennessee lawmaking will cause a new round of sweaty palIpitations to break out — like what occurred a few days ago as the state House debated the legal definition of “intimate parts.”
Emerging from this babbling nonsense was a bill approved by both chambers and sent to Gov. Bill Haslam. No word yet on what Hizzoner will do.
If he has any common sense — and two certain body parts of his own, if you catch my drift — the governor will veto this measure.
Legislators have sent the governor a bill, drafted by a conservative Christian organization, that makes classroom instructors who promote or condone “gateway sexual activity” subject to a $500 fine.
The phrase in SB3310, which was given final approval Friday when the Senate signed off on a minor House amendment, was the subject of much legislative debate. On the House floor it ranged from joking to impassioned oratory and a reference to the phrase being lampooned by Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert and subject to criticism in The New York Times.
“Gateway sexual activity is so vaguely defined it could be holding hands, hugging, anything that teenagers do like that,” said Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville.
Stewart suggested that a teacher chaperone at a high school prom who sees a girl sit in a boy’s lap or a couple kissing and takes no action would be deemed to have condoned “gateway sexual activity” and subject to discipline and a fine.
In a New York Times opinion piece, Amy Greene sees a violation of Tennessee religious traditions in the “gateway sexual activity” bill and the measure she calls “the creationism bill.” A lot has changed in Tennessee since frontier times, but our feelings about religion remain strong. I know our hearts are in the debates we have over whether biblical theories should be discussed in public schools, whichever side we come down on. But I’m not sure the politicians’ are.
They claim their goal is to better our education system, and to give us more freedom of religious thought in the bargain. But it seems to me they’re taking away the individualist liberties we’ve always prized and giving us more government regulation instead.
I fear that these bills, written to give us what they think we want, will have the opposite effect. By legislating our Christianity, what they’re really doing is taking it away from us.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House has passed a bill to allow parents to sue teachers or outside groups for promoting or condoning “gateway sexual activity” by students.
The chamber voted 68-23 in favor of the bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Jim Gotto of Nashville on Friday.
Several Democrats argued that the bill’s definition of “gateway sexual activity” was too vague and could cause teachers to be disciplined for not breaking up students hugging or kissing during a high school dance.
Democratic Rep. John Deberry of Memphis came to the well of the chamber to make an impassioned defense of the bill and to condemn opponents of being arrogant and “in denial” about efforts to change the behavior that leads to teen pregnancy.
At least one Democrat had angry words for Deberry afterward.
— Note: The bill, SB3310, now goes to the governor. It passed the Senate 28-1 earlier. In the House, seven Democrats voted for it and one Republican (Rep. Julia Hurley) voted no, according to the legislative website. The sole Senate no came from Sen. Beverly Marrero of Memphis.(