Sen. Ed Reilly has moved to withdraw a resolution calling on the Maryland State Board of Education to teach menstrual tracking during health education after activists launched a Facebook group entitled “I Bled for Ed,” and decried the proposal as invasive and inappropriate.
Activists said the nonbinding resolution was a “thinly veiled attempt to control women’s reproductive lives” and a push toward abstinence-only sex education. Reilly, R-Gambrills, said it was an effort to help young women better understand their reproductive health.
Cervical mucus pattern tracking, mentioned in the resolution, is a proactive measure against issues like thyroid disease and polycystic ovarian syndrome, which can lead to other medical issues later in life, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. It’s also a commonly known form of fertility awareness and natural family planning.
Reilly and his wife, a certified fertility care practitioner, have used cervical mucus pattern charting for 23 years in their marriage as a means of family planning. Reilly said he was not calling for the school system to track the menstrual cycles of students.
Instead, he wanted to offer “accurate and current information about women’s health issues.”
In a statement to The Capital, Reilly said he thinks the curriculum touted by the resolution would have fit perfectly with what is already being taught in Maryland public schools. Still, he said he would withdraw the resolution, set to be heard by the Senate Education, Health and Environment Committee in a now canceled Thursday morning. The committee still has to vote in favor of the withdrawal, but it is likely to be approved.
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“It’s disappointing that the negative feedback I received seems based on a knee-jerk reaction to the bill’s title. My intent was for an understanding of the science and the benefit this subject matter would bring to our public school students,” Reilly said in a statement. “This may not be the year for this discussion.”
Reilly previously declined to comment on criticisms, saying he “couldn’t comment on ignorance.” He declined to comment further Tuesday after releasing a statement.
Sharon Blugis, a women’s issue advocate for the Women Indivisible Strong and Effective group, said it won’t ever be the year for it. She created the “I Bled for Ed” group and led the charge against the resolution. If he plans to introduce the same or similar legislation in the future, she said, “we will be waiting.”
She initially called for the withdrawal of the resolution and then for Reilly to apologize to his Senate colleagues for introducing this during the pandemic when she said lawmakers should be focused on health issues and economic relief.
The proposal was invasive, controlling and overall detrimental to women’s health and unlikely to pass in the Democratic-controlled legislature, Blugis said.