At a town hall hosted by NARAL Pro-Choice America on Saturday, Julián Castro emphasized the importance of sex education and access to reproductive health care, which he said includes contraceptives.
When asked by Starting Line, Castro said, “What I believe is that we need to make sure that we have sex education in our public schools, that of course is age appropriate, but also is informative. That provides young people with a good baseline education so they can make smart decisions as they get older.”
Castro said even though school curriculums are dictated by states, the federal government could incentivize schools to include comprehensive, accurate sex education.
Because the quality of sex education varies across the country, Castro said he would focus on the states who have good models and encourage other states to adopt them.
In Iowa, state law dictates that “research-based, age-appropriate health education be taught in kindergarten through 12 grade, and details what must be included by grade.” The law also says the curriculum has to use resources that are current and medically accurate.
“We know that one of the best things we can do is educate our young people and make sure that they have access to contraception,” Castro said during the town hall.
When he talked about reproductive health care, Castro said that included contraceptives.
“I want a health care system where everybody is able to access reproductive healthcare,” he said. “I want to do things like eliminate the Hyde Amendment, which has made it harder for poor women to access abortion services. I also want to be able to make sure people are able to get contraception that they need by ensuring health care plans include that kind of coverage.”
Along with these additions to the idea of reproductive freedom, Castro said he supported measures like making Roe v. Wade law, repealing the Hyde Amendment, eliminating the domestic and international gag rules and appointing judges who support women’s reproductive freedom.
He also acknowledged that the transgender and non-binary communities need access to these services, too.
The biggest obstacle, of course, is the anti-abortion movement, and Castro said he wouldn’t shy away from them.
“I’m going to be bold and fearless throughout this campaign on what I believe we need to do to be a more prosperous America,” he said. “At the same time, of course, I’m willing to work with people who don’t agree with me to make sure that we can make life better for everybody.”
Religion entered the conversation as another obstacle, and one woman in the audience asked Castro about reproductive freedom as they relate to people’s religious beliefs.
He said it’s unfortunate so many people focus on conservative people of faith, because he’s found that there are a lot of religious people who have progressive values.
Castro said the key is not to shut down people with religious beliefs, but to try working with them, even though abortion is one of the most controversial issues. He also said progressive religious people shouldn’t be afraid to speak up about the policies they support.
“I’ll do everything to work with people who I disagree with, where we can find common ground, but I’m also going to stand up for the many women who need the right to make that choice,” Castro said. “I’ll also say that as a Catholic, I know that there’s a lot of Catholics out there that agree with ensuring access to reproductive healthcare, including the right to choose.”
by Nikoel Hytrek