Senate Rejects Abstinence Standard
Special Report - June 24, 2009
By a vote of 2521, the North Carolina State Senate approved a bill Tuesday that will force the 104 of the state’s 115 school districts that currently teach Abstinence-Until-Marriage (AUM) sex education programs to change to a more contraception-focused Comprehensive Sex Education program (CSE). HB 88Healthy Youth Act had been pulled on and off the Senate calendar for nearly two months while changes were made and votes were counted.
The bill that passed on Thursday changes the state’s current AUM law that sets a standard of abstinence until marriage for students through directive teaching and an honest discussion of the risks associated with premarital sexual activity. The new proposal would implement a combination of AUM and CSE in a single class format in all schools statewide. Under current law, fewer than a dozen school districts have chosen to expand on the good thorough AUM programs in place by adding the controversial CSE component. The current version of the bill would automatically enroll all 7th through 9th grade students in the new class unless a parent specifically intervenes to have their child withdrawn. The curriculum would be required to include discussion of the 18 FDAapproved methods of contraception including condoms, diaphragms, surgical sterilization, and the abortifacient morning after pill.
Senate Republicans offered four amendments Thursday in an attempt to preserve the House bill’s emphasis on parental involvement and to limit the scope of the CSE portion of the curriculum. Only one amendment, offered by Rep. Phil Berger (RRockingham), which more clearly specifies the content of the portion of the course related to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), was accepted by the Senate.
The House passed a much different version of HB 88 in April. Under the House proposal, all school districts would still be forced to teach contraceptive sex education, but parents would have the choice to enroll their child in an AUM course, a CSE course, or no sex education at all. Any child without parental consent on file, would not receive sex education. Unless the House now concurs with the Senate changes to the bill, a conference committee composed of members from both chambers will be formed to work out a compromise version of the bill. That compromise would then be presented to both the House and Senate for a simple up or down vote.
“It is unfortunate that the Senate has joined the House in a plan to subject children in our public schools to the contraceptive sex education curricula that has such a clear history of failure,” commented Bill Brooks, president of the North Carolina Family Policy Council. “This is a case where the results of the past decade show that abstinence has had a tremendous role in the reduction of teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and teen abortions. The majority has voted to accommodate the wishes of a few special interest groups that have opposed abstinence from the beginning, and have been trying to bring back contraceptives since abstinence from sex-until-marriage became the state standard in 1995.”
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