Despite the fact that leading medical organizations agree that abortion does not actually put women at a higher risk for future premature births, North Carolina Republicans want to teach students otherwise. Under a measure that’s currently advancing in the state legislature, the state’s sex ed classes would be required to include scientifically disputed information about the risks of having an abortion.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Warren Daniel (R), claims that SB 132 isn’t based on any kind of political ideology. “It’s based on the scientific evidence that you will have a future risk of preterm birth if you decide voluntarily to have an abortion,” Daniel told a Senate Health Committee earlier this week during the initial debate over SB 132.
But the medical professionals who testified against the measure disagree with that assessment. At the same committee hearing, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina, Dr. David Grimes, called the proposed update to the state’s sex ed law “unnecessary and uninformed”:
“Senate Bill 132 would establish a state-sponsored ideology,” he said. “The statement is scientifically false.”
Grimes formerly directed abortion surveillance efforts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The World Health Organization, the CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatricians and the American Public Health Association all have uniformly concluded that abortion does not cause prematurity,” he told the committee. “How did they all get it wrong?”
There’s no good reason to amend the sex ed requirements that the state already has. According to a recent poll from the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina, 83 percent of parents in the state would like schools to continue providing sex education as currently defined under the Healthy Youth Act.
Nonetheless, the measure has already cleared a Senate committee and gotten approval from the full Senate. After this week’s heated debates, Daniel agreed to amend the legislation to add other risk factors for preterm birth — like smoking, drinking, drug use and poor prenatal care — to sexual health instruction. But SB 132 would still enshrine misinformation about abortion into state law. A final vote on the measure could come as early as Monday.
And SB 132 is hardly the only anti-choice legislation currently being considered in North Carolina. Republicans have also introduced a measure that would impose unnecessary, burdensome restrictions on abortion clinics that could ultimately force them to close their doors. At the end of March, hundreds of protesters gathered in the state capital to protest against the proposed clinic rules, telling their anti-abortion legislators that they have no right to interfere in women’s personal medical decisions. And just earlier this week, North Carolina also began advancing a bill that would force teens to get a notarized permission slip from their parents before being able to access sexual health services like birth control pills or STD tests.