A controversial N.C. Senate abortion bill is headed to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk not long after Texas Sen. Wendy Davis’ pink-sneakered stand on her own Senate floor — calling into question one of McCrory’s key campaign promises.
Senate Bill 132 would require public school sex education classes to include the risk of premature births for women who had previously had an abortion, as well as other risk factors like drug use or smoking. The classes would start in seventh grade.
The bill gained final Senate approval Tuesday after passing the N.C. House of Representatives last week, sending it to the governor’s desk.
McCrory said last week he would sign the bill into law, spawning criticism in light of his campaign vow not to enact new abortion restrictions.
Though legislators have framed it as an education bill, its reach spans beyond the classroom, said Suzanne Buckley, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, in a statement.
The bill never faced an education committee.
“This bill has nothing to do with education and everything to do with an anti-choice political agenda,” Buckley said.
Still, supporters of the legislation say McCrory has stayed true to his promise.
Ruby Bea Peters — executive director of Pregnancy Support Services, a local Christian ministry providing abortion alternatives — said in an email the bill does not restrict abortion.
“I do see this bill promoting long-term health information for the person seeking an abortion,” Peters said.
Opponents have also decried the science behind the bill, saying the link between abortion and preterm births lacks scientific clout.
“This bill is just another way to start shaming women and young girls at an even earlier age.”
But the current curriculum tiptoes around abortion, leaving students less informed, said Emily Farthing, a UNC sophomore and member of anti-abortion group Carolina Students for Life.
The original bill deemed abortion a “cause” of preterm births, but an amendment called it a “risk.”
A proposed Democratic amendment would have directed teachers only to make information available about preterm birth risks, but it was tabled.
The 2009 Healthy Youth Act shifted N.C. sex education to a comprehensive — not abstinence-only — curriculum. Though it stresses abstinence, it also teaches about birth control and STD prevention, Kiser said.
“We want teenagers to remain abstinent until mentally and emotionally ready,” she said.
“But we understand that doesn’t always happen.”
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