NC Senate Bill 132: Promoting Teen Health or a Political Agenda?

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by Morgan Fogarty
Bio | Email | Follow: @morganfogarty by Photographer Chris Keimig

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Senate Bill 132 requires curriculum, starting in middle school, on the "preventable causes of pre-term birth, including induced abortion."  It passed in the House on Thursday 68-42, mostly along party lines.

NC Senator Warren Daniel, a Republican, is one of the primary sponsors.  He says, "We already have a fairly comprehensive reproductive health curriculum in the schools.  This really just augments that slightly by having a discussion that talks about the future risk associated with abortion, drug use, alcohol use and inadequate prenatal care."

Republican Senator Shirley Randleman, another sponsor, tells WCCB News, "Preterm birth has reached epidemic proportions in North Carolina.  SB 132 addresses a long overdue need to ensure that young women of childbearing age will be informed of all potential risk for preterm birth, including abortion."

Randleman's assistant referred us to the March of Dimes, but the organization's online statistics show the pre-term birth rate is down in North Carolina, from 13 percent in 2011 to 12.6 percent in 2012.  The goal is 9.6 percent.

March of Dimes lists uninsured women, induced labor, c-sections and smoking as contributing factors, but not abortion.

NARAL Pro-Choice of North Carolina's executive director Suzanne Buckley says, "No respected medical authority has found evidence that links abortion care to later adverse effects on a woman's reproductive health and fertility."

The 35-member North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force recommended Bill 132.  Daniel says parents who don't agree can opt their children out of the curriculum.  He says, "I think this is a bill that will ultimately save lives and also save North Carolina millions of dollars in medical costs."

The bill already passed the Senate, which will have to approve the House's changes. Daniel says that'll happen early next week.  If signed into law, the bill will also extend into charter schools and some home school programs.

UPDATE: A spokesperson for March of Dimes sent WCCB additional information, saying "Based on current evidence, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not consider a prior abortion or abortions to be a risk factor for premature birth. The March of Dimes follows ACOG's guidance in this matter."

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