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Catholic News Agency, July 11, 2019
Cincinnati, Ohio, Jul 11, 2019 / 12:42 am (CNA) – A recently introduced bill in Ohio would add scientific information about the development of the unborn child to the state’s public and charter school curriculum.
HB 90, known as the “Humanity of the Unborn Child” bill, would direct the state board of education and department of health to create educational programing that “provides accurate, scientifically verifiable information concerning the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child” throughout a pregnancy.
The legislation would also instruct the department of health to “develop and maintain a pregnancy and child services database containing a list of agencies that offer services available to assist women through pregnancy and childbirth and while their children are dependent.”
It would direct the health department to distribute educational materials on maternal health, including information about prenatal vitamins and nutrition, avoidance of alcohol and drugs during pregnancy, and resources available for prenatal medical care.
The bill, currently in the House Health Committee, was introduced by Rep. Niraj Antani (R., Miamisburg).
“When you learn that a baby’s heart beats at six to eight weeks, the fingernails form at 10 weeks, at 20 weeks pain is felt, that will help create a culture of life,” Antani said, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Current regulations in Ohio require sex education that includes discussion of STDs and emphasizes abstinence before marriage, according to the Toledo Blade. No current regulations are in place for discussing abortion in school.
Supporters of the legislation say that educating people on fetal development and pregnancy health is good for moms and their babies.
The Toledo Blade reported that Jessica Warner, director of legislative affairs for Ohio Right to Life, testified before a committee hearing about the need to find ways to reduce infant mortality and promote better education on prenatal care.
“This can … ensure that young women who may find themselves pregnant are quickly connected to the prenatal care that is so needed,” she said.
Critics of the bill have blasted it as a political move that will deprive students of information that they need to make informed decisions.
The legislation would prohibit organizations that perform abortions from being consulted in the creation of the fetal development curriculum, which would be taught to students in 3rd-12th grade. It would also bar school employees from referring students for abortions.
Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist at the ACLU of Ohio, told the Huffington Post that the legislation is “attempted propaganda reflecting one particular viewpoint.”
Jennifer McNally, chairman of the board of trustees for Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, argued that the bill dictates “standards that are blatantly inaccurate and ideologically motivated,” the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Consideration of the “Humanity of the Unborn Child” bill comes as states across the country continue to debate legislation that would expand or restrict abortion access.
Last week, a federal judge temporarily blocked an Ohio law banning abortions after an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detected, usually six to eight weeks into pregnancy.
The law had been set to go into effect July 11.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett wrote that the law is unconstitutional “on its face” and that “the law is well-settled that women possess a fundamental constitutional right of access to abortions,” reported local radio station WOSU.
The temporary stay means that abortion clinics may continue performing abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable while the law’s constitutionality is argued in court.