WASHINGTON (BP)–A new law has made Missouri the first state to ban Planned Parenthood from teaching sex education classes in public schools.
The legislation’s enactment gave permanent status to the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion Services Program, allowing schools to emphasize abstinence during sex education classes. The law also prevents any personnel affiliated with abortion clinics from teaching sex education classes.
Gov. Matt Blunt, R.-Mo., signed the bill into law at Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City on July 6, saying in a written statement, “All life is precious and needs to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.
“Abortion providers like Planned Parenthood should not be supplying our students with information about sexual health,” Blunt said. “This vital legislation ensures that our children get the information they need from their teachers, parents and physicians.”
Jim Sedlak, vice president of the American Life League, applauded Missouri’s action, saying in a news release, “The elected officials in Missouri understood the conflict of interest that exists when Planned Parenthood is allowed to teach or provide material for sex education classes. To have an entity that profits from the sale of birth control and abortion teaching our children about sex is ludicrous.”
Sedlak cited the example of a Planned Parenthood-endorsed book titled “It’s Perfectly Normal” that is used in public school sex education classes. The book, which is meant for children ages 10 and older, gives nine reasons to have an abortion.
“According to Planned Parenthood data, 70 percent of its customers are under the age of 25 — and 27 percent are under the age of 20,” Sedlak said. “So high school and college girls are Planned Parenthood’s major customers — exactly the ones who are reached by Planned Parenthood’s sex education programs in the schools.”
Recent figures released from the state health department show Missouri’s residents had nearly 12,000 abortions in 2006, a 2 percent increase from the previous year. The actual number of abortions performed in the state decreased 5 percent to about 7,500, as most women traveled to Kansas for the procedure.
The new law also established the Missouri Alternatives to Abortion Public Awareness Program, which provides funding for assistance and counseling to pregnant women who want to place their babies for adoption. Additionally, the legislation requires abortion clinics that perform second- and third-trimester abortions, or at least five first-trimester abortions per month, to be classified as ambulatory surgical centers.
A federal judge has delayed enforcement of the clinic reclassification section of the law, but the other two provisions went into effect Aug. 28.
After issuing a preliminary injunction in August, Judge Ortrie Smith responded Sept. 24 to a suit by Planned Parenthood and an abortion doctor by ordering the clinic regulation section not to be enforced for at least 60 days. During that time, the abortion providers and the state will negotiate on some provisions in the law.
An alert released on the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s website said the new measure could prevent clinics in Kansas City and Columbia from performing abortions and will “remove the requirements of comprehensive, medically accurate sex education from public schools.”
The Kansas City Star reported that the law could require $2 million in renovations at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia, where the main campus of the University of Missouri is located. The newspaper also reported the Kansas City clinic most likely would stop performing abortions.
Missouri state regulations require ambulatory surgical centers to have halls leading to operating and recovery rooms at least 8 feet wide and halls at least 5 feet wide in other areas of the facility. The clinics now also must meet regulations for emergency equipment, infection control and medical staffing.
Missouri pro-life advocates achieved another victory last March, when Blunt announced plans to halt state taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood programs that provide cervical cancer and breast cancer screening.
Blunt said in a news release, “Patients should not have to go to abortion clinics to access life saving tests.” He also said, “[W]omen may access important preventative care without contributing to the abortion providers’ goal of facilitating the destruction of innocent life.”
Jennifer Thurman, a senior at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., was a Baptist Press intern this summer in Washington, D.C. Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, contributed to this report.