***The Iowa Standard is an independent media voice. We rely on the financial support of our readers to exist. Please consider a one-time sign of support or becoming a monthly supporter at $5, $10/month - whatever you think we're worth! If you’ve ever used the phrase “Fake News” — now YOU can actually DO something about it! You can also support us on PayPal at [email protected] or Venmo at Iowa-Standard-2018 or through the mail at: PO Box 112 Sioux Center, IA 51250

A proposed law requiring pregnancy and fetal development be added into the human growth and development and health curriculum of Iowa schools drew plenty of emotional objections on Tuesday morning.

House File 2031 requires instruction regarding human growth and development curriculum provided in grades 1-12 include instruction regarding human biology related to pregnancy and human development inside the womb.

Such curriculum is to include a video, at least three minutes in length, that shows the development of the brain, heart, sex organs and other vital organs in early fetal development. The video also is to render or animate comparable to the Baby Olivia video developed by Live Action.

Amber Williams spoke in support of the bill, noting that parents will be able to opt out of any portion of human growth and development curriculum they wish when receiving the curriculum prior to the school year — if Senate File 2027 passes.

Williams said she wishes this bill was in law when she was in school.

“By the time I was 18, I knew more about choice than I did about life,” she said. “I would’ve known that at 10 weeks gestation, the baby I was about to abort had nearly 1 billion cells, could suck her thumb and swallow, gasp an object, touch her face, sigh and stretch. The staff over at Planned Parenthood didn’t share that information with me. Had I been shown the video Meet Baby Olivia, which actually follows the science of the incredible journey of life beginning at conception, I would have chosen life.”

Shellie Flockhart spoke in favor of the bill for several reasons. She said her son currently in school was supposed to have eight hours of human growth and development but it went over everything except pregnancy and fetal development.

“Reproductive system, it went over anal and oral, STDs, pictures of STDS — absolutely everything except for the development of a baby,” she said.

In the recovery world, individuals who previously abused alcohol and drugs often say they would not have drunk if they had known what would have happened.

“This video will get that in the minds of children at an early age of the fact that the things they put in themselves at pregnancy will affect the baby,” Flockhart said.

Angela Caulk with the Family Planning Council of Iowa spoke against the bill, calling Live Action an “anti-choice” organization. Caulk also claimed the video is “full of medically inaccurate information.”

Caulk took issue with the claim that arm and leg buds appear at four weeks when Mount Sinai Hospital claims it happens between 6-7 weeks. The video also states the baby begins to move between 5-6 weeks, but Mount Sinai Hospital claims it moves at 15-20 weeks. The embryonic stage also finishes at the 10th week rather than the ninth as stated in the video, Caulk claimed.

The legislation passed in North Dakota and is moving in Missouri, Kentucky and West Virginia.

“I think we can see the pattern here,” Caulk said. “Why would we subject Iowa students to a video of human growth and development ripe with medically inaccurate information?”

Patty Alexander said she appreciates the bill because it spreads truth and brings light to young people.

“Scientists have been able to film and document the development of a human baby in the womb,” Alexander said. “How awesome is that? Young children are extremely, extremely naturally curious. As a strong parental rights supporter, parents can choose to opt-out.”

Connie Ryan of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund said the organization is strongly opposed to the bill.

“It is not OK, it is never OK, to push a political or a religious agenda on our public schools, public school educators, public school children and especially educators who carry such a huge burden already,” Ryan said. “It’s not OK to push an agenda that forces misinformation and religious ideology onto all the public school children of Iowa.”

Ryan said the bill is “nothing but a political and religious agenda” aimed at “forced indoctrination” of Iowa’s children.

Ryan Benn with The FAMiLY Leader said he has watched the Baby Olivia video and hasn’t seen any religious claims in it.

“Just scientific fact,” he said. “Life begins at conception.”

Dave Daughton, who represents Rural School Advocates of Iowa and School Administrators of Iowa, said the groups are opposed not because of the content but because of the process.

“School districts don’t feel like it’s the legislature’s responsibility to determine what is in the classroom specifically,” he said.

Daughton said the bill is “overly prescriptive.”

Margaret Buckton of Rural School Advocates of Iowa and the Urban Education Network of Iowa said she is concerned about what happens if the bill passes and they realize something is not factual or there is a more engaging way to teach the content.

Jeff Pitts with the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition called it a “common sense bill” that teaches the truth to Iowa children regarding basic human biology.

“How do you teach human growth and development and not begin at the beginning,” he asked.

Maggie DeWitte of Pulse Life Advocates said the bill is a “much-needed addition” to the curriculum and provides students with a clearer understanding of the fertilization process and various stages of human development throughout pregnancy.

“This is how humans are formed and created in the womb,” she said. “It’s vital information. This isn’t an opinion, this isn’t a belief, this isn’t a religious identity, this is actual science that you can find in any embryology book.”

DeWitte added that when she travels Iowa to speak on the issue, she often takes fetal models.

“I can’t begin to tell you how young children are drawn to those fetal models,” she said. “They want to understand how they were created, how they were formed in the womb. It’s a great piece of legislation that will inform children on biology.”

Republican State Rep. Luana Stoltenberg, who authored the bill, said it is important to recognize the bill doesn’t require a specific video to be shown.

“It’s just saying teach fetal development,” Stoltenberg said. “Just science. It’s science.”

Mazie Stilwell of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Iowa said the nation’s largest abortion provider believes young Iowans deserve access to medically appropriate and age-appropriate sex education.

“Frankly as a parent of a kindergartner the idea of showing this propaganda video next year really boggles my mind,” Stilwell said. “I’m struggling to understand how on one hand we are banning books and on the other hand we are prescribing anti-abortion propaganda.”

Stilwell called the bill “dangerous.”

Chuck Hurley, who represents The FAMiLY Leader, said it is important to focus on the facts during this debate.

“Let’s find out what and when and how a baby develops,” Hurley said.

Democrat State Rep. Molly Buck said she has “absolutely no issues with objective, comprehensive and age-appropriate” teaching of human growth and development, but as someone who has taught children between first and fifth grades, the topic of the video — especially the sperm swimming and fertilizing the egg — is too much for kids and should be addressed at home.

Buck watched the Baby Olivia video more than once, and reached out to board-certified doctors she knows who said the video contains inaccuracies.

“Those are the people I guess that I would trust,” she said. “As a teacher, I really try to be especially cautious about offering opinions to kids and offering things that are not correct to kids and I really feel like this video is offering things to kids, facts to kids, that are disguised as facts and are really falsehoods. When teaching human growth and development, I think that teachers really need to stick to the facts that medical doctors are sticking to.”

Live Action, which produced the video, is an “anti-abortion” group Buck said that espouses a Christian worldview.

“And while that’s fine at home, it’s not something we can do in the schools,” she said. “We have to teach to all kids. We have to teach to all faiths. I just don’t think that school is the place to be pushing this.”

Republican State Rep. Craig Johnson said the legislature issues mandates every day, so while he understands the concerns of a mandate from school districts, it isn’t a reason to oppose the bill.

“The most important thing this subcommittee has drawn out right now is the important discussion of life and for that I appreciate it and am willing to sign this bill out of subcommittee,” he said.

Republican State Rep. Anne Osmundson said when it comes to “medically accurate scientific information,” there’s a difference in opinion.

“I like the idea of a fetal model too, maybe that’s something to include,” she said. “We had that at the county fair this year and kids were so fascinated by it. It’s awesome for them to learn fetal development.”

Author: Jacob Hall



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here