OKLAHOMA CITY – A controversial bill that puts the abortion debate in your child’s classroom passes the House but not without some big questions still left unanswered.
Opponents said this bill would put yet another unfunded mandate on our schools – money they said could go for textbooks and raises for teachers.
But, the author of the bill is standing by it.
A bill authored by Rep. Ann Coody would require schools to teach public school students that life begins at conception.
Coody hopes the bill would reduce the number of young people getting abortions.
“When a person knows that a child is a human being even in the womb and from conception and can see that development from pictures and films that could be shown in the teaching, then they know that is a human being,” Coody said.
“Why can’t we talk about the whole picture? Why can’t we give kids the whole picture here?” asked Rep. Emily Virgin.
Virgin and Rep. Jason Dunnington proposed amendments to the bill that would include sex education.
“Let’s actually try to prevent abortions by having those conversations about how you prevent pregnancy, but that part was completely left out of the bill,” Virgin said.
“The bill is very clear in that this cannot fund sex education. This is not about sex education,” Coody said.
Opponents also also concerned about paying for the bill as resources are already depleted for education.
State leaders estimate it would cost about $5 million to pay for these classes.
“We think it’s somewhat of a slap in the face to educators who haven’t had a raise for seven or eight years who are continually asked to do more in the classroom for less,” Dunnington said.
Coody admits, right now, there is no money to pay for these classes.
“Later on, when the money is available, then a later legislature must allocate the funds,” Coody said.
“This is a reflection of the priorities this legislature has shown time and time again that we don’t want to fund things like biology and math and English, but we’re going to force another mandate on education, and we don’t know how much it’s going to cost,” Virgin said.
The bill passed the House 64-12.
25 representatives didn’t vote on it.
Now, the bill could be heard in a Senate committee within the next two to three weeks.