When I feel like I need to learn more about my body, my first thought is always: "I need an old white man who has never met me to give me lessons." And then I inevitably look to the GOP. Thankfully, there is always a new bill being pushed through a House or the Senate that will teach me everything I need to know about my reproductive system.
The latest in this slew of legislation is a bill that will be voted on the North Carolina Senate as early as Monday. The proposed bill would require public schools to teach about abortion. If the bill stopped there, I would have little to complain about. I wholeheartedly believe that sex education should be comprehensive and include learning about the abortion as a viable option. Of course, this discussion would certainly include a rational discussion of the risks of abortion, because even the pro-choice advocates must admit the dangers of such an endeavor. But the Republicans' new bill says that the school's curriculum must single out abortion as a "cause of preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies."
So, let's take a look at the facts. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists risks of abortion as: scarring, excessive bleeding, damage to the womb, and uterine perforation. While these complications should be no means be taken lightly, nowhere does it mention negative consequences on future pregnancies. Senator Angela Bryant (D-Nash.) put it best by saying, "The correlation between abortion and preterm delivery is not well settled science. I'm concerned about teaching our students what is our opinion, religious belief, philosophical belief (or) minority expert view as some absolute science or medical evidence."
Making sweeping statements about the female reproductive system with little scientific evidence is nothing new for the Republican Party. Let us recall back in January when Representative Todd Akin (R-Mo.) made some completely accurate declarations stating that legitimate rape doesn't often lead to pregnancy as "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
Perhaps Akin, and his ilk, missed a critical day in sex ed. But a lot of us are about to miss out on some necessary sex ed information. The House Finance Committee in Ohio is considering a budget cut that would ban teaching that condones "gateway sexual activity." The bill also prohibits any coursework that promotes non-abstinence as an acceptable behavior. This is certainly not a rational response. In the modern era, it is not reasonable to assume that only teaching abstinence will actually help kids later in life. Teen pregnancies are highest in states with abstinence-only sex education. If we really want to help the next generation, we should be promoting legislation to expand and improve sex education rather than limiting its scope.