N.C. Senate Bill Would Teach Students Abortion is Linked to Premature Birth

May 10, 2013 — The North Carolina Senate Health Committee on Wednesday approved a bill (SB 132) that would require school health educators to teach students that abortion can increase the risk of premature births in future pregnancies, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. The measure now goes to the full Senate (Raleigh News & Observer, 5/8).

The bill -- sponsored by state Sen. Warren Daniel (R) -- would mandate that health classes for students in grade seven and above include lessons on "preventable causes of preterm birth, including induced abortion."

Committee Testimony

The bill drew an overflowing crowd to the committee hearing, which featured conflicting testimony on whether there is a link between abortion and preterm birth (Jones, WUNC, 5/8).

Marty McCaffrey -- an expert in neonatal medicine at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine who requested that lawmakers develop a bill to address premature births in the state -- cited several studies that he said show link between abortion and early births.

However, David Grimes -- a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UNC -- dismissed the bill as "state-sponsored ideology," adding that McCaffery's claims are scientifically flawed (Raleigh News & Observer, 5/8). Grimes said, "The World Health Organization, the CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics to which Dr. McCaffrey belongs, and the American Public Health Association have all concluded that abortion does not cause prematurity."

State Sen. Gladys Robinson (D) said it's possible for people on both sides of the debate to find support for their claims. She said, "The information is out there," adding, "We can use whatever we want to justify why we want to do these things, but I think that we need to make sure the teachers teach what they are able to teach and educated to teach, and not go into other areas that they are not professionally educated to do."

Robinson offered an amendment that would remove abortion from the list of preventable causes of preterm births. Committee Chair Ralph Hise (R) declared that the amendment failed (WUNC, 5/8).