Ohio House Bill Would Require Public School Science and Health Educators Discuss 'Humanity of Unborn'

The proposed law would require teachers to present material from the Ohio Department of Health about pregnancy, abortion and fetal development to public school students. Critics say some stipulations are ideologically-driven, however.

Jun 5, 2019 at 12:25 pm
click to enlarge State Rep. Niraj Antani - Ohio House of Representatives
Ohio House of Representatives
State Rep. Niraj Antani

A bill in the Ohio House of Representatives would require public school science and health teachers to teach students about pregnancy, fetal development and abortion. 

Some parts of House Bill 90, introduced by Republican State Rep. Niraj Antani, have raised ire from critics, however. Specifically, they're upset about language that says students should be taught about "the humanity of the unborn," a nod to pro-life beliefs espoused by many Republican lawmakers.

Another part of the bill would create prohibitions keeping school employees from telling students about abortion providers.

Students in Grades 3-12 would take the classes under Antani's proposal. The materials for the segments about pregnancy and fetal development would be provided by the Ohio Department of Health under the proposed law.

The provisions dealing with abortion have civil liberties and pro-choice groups crying foul.

"They want to commandeer multiple state agencies and all public schools to deliver slanted, incorrect, harmful and unscientific information across the state,” said American Civil Liberties Union lobbyist Gary Daniels during a committee hearing on the bill yesterday. 

Other critics, including Ohio Planned Parenthood, say the statements that would be required under the bill are scientifically inaccurate. 

"Our children deserve an inclusive, developmentally appropriate and honest education," Ohio Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio Board Chair Jennifer McNally said during the hearing. "We have a societal responsibility to help them learn to protect themselves, to navigate healthy relationships and to reinforce family communications. Offering anything less is not only ineffective, it is unethical."

Antani says the criticism about scientific accuracy is precisely why he would tap the Department of Health to develop the specific material taught.

A prior point in the bill, since dropped, would have required signage in the restrooms of public buildings like schools advocating for "an abortion-free society." 

Currently, there are no set standards in Ohio for K-12 health and education classes. The Buckeye State is the only one in the nation without those standards. 

State Reps. John Becker and Craig Riedel, both Republicans, are cosponsoring the bill.