In attacking Oklahoma fetal education law, Slate shows why it’s needed


At Slate, Nora Caplan-Bricker is not happy that Oklahoma intends to teach public school students that human life begins at fertilization — not happy at all. She claims that the recently-enacted law requiring fetal development education and public awareness amounts to “Siphoning Money From Schools and Pouring It Into an Anti-Abortion Curriculum.”

While the bill’s express goal is “achieving an abortion-free society,” the fact remains that the actual content to be taught is nothing more than objective biological facts which are confirmed by dozens of mainstream, non-political scientific textbooks, organizations, and experts, rooted in settled, unambiguous criteria, and admitted by numerous leading pro-abortion thinkers and leaders.

Note that nowhere does the author even attempt to identify how these facts—which, in a sane society, would already be standard in every human biology course—might be false or misleading. If accurately teaching the science of a subject is intrinsically “anti” that subject, then maybe the lesson isn’t where the problem lies.

Having tacitly forfeited the only substantive charge that would really matter, Caplan-Bricker instead tries to raise a variety of peripheral objections, with predictable results:

Critics have already raised concerns about what subjects might suffer to make room in the school day for anti-abortion propagandizing. “Adding yet another mandate on [teachers] and forcing them to have those very emotional and political conversations with young people just takes away instructional time from other areas,” Democratic State Representative Emily Virgin said, according to the World.

Where to fit it in? Is “in biology class” not self-evident? The idea that something so basic from a core educational subject would be out of place or detract from anything else is absurd, but not as absurd as suggesting that teaching the facts of fetal development is automatically “emotional and political.” Again, if sharing information raises politically inconvenient questions, it isn’t the information’s fault, but the fault of those who’ve spent so long denying that information in service of a political agenda.


Oklahoma has a $1.3 billion budget deficit, and that weight is falling heaviest upon its struggling school system: Reuters recently reported that Oklahoma’s $3 billion education budget had been cut by $58 million since January. Though the law technically establishes a “Public Education on the Humanity of the Unborn Child Fund”—“a continuing fund, not subject to fiscal year limitations”—to pay for the high school programs, it’s not at all clear where the money [an estimated $4.78 million] will come from to fill it.

Well, for starters, there are estimates that Oklahoma has $753 million in wasteful spending that could cover the cost more than 150 times over. It’s also worth noting that most folks of Nora Caplan-Bricker’s political persuasion consider anti-bullying programs an important addition to public schools regardless of their million-dollar price tags, because teaching the next generation to treat each other decently is worth it. Well, treating people decently starts in the womb, with the victims least capable of fighting back.

Of course, while Oklahoma’s methods for “achieving an abortion-free society” have a totalitarian tinge […]

Teaching basic biology is totalitarian now? Really? That’s doubly funny considering that there are quite a few environmental leaders who openly talk about throwing people in jail for expressing skepticism about global warming, yet if that sounds totalitarian to Caplan-Bricker, she doesn’t seem to have mentioned it.

[T]he goal of creating a society in which abortion happens infrequently makes total sense. That’s why, during debates over the bill, Democrats advocated supplementing it with strategies that might actually work. As reported by Rewire, Rep. Virgin suggested an amendment that would include comprehensive sex education, and another Democrat, Rep. Jason Dunnington, wrote an amendment to “provide family planning services, including all forms of contraceptives.”

Sigh. No matter how many times pro-lifers debunk this meme, it just never seems to phase them. It sure would be nice if abortion advocates could stay on-topic for at least one debate before trying to shoehorn in their pet causes.

It’s long been said that Republicans’ passion for the unborn doesn’t extend past delivery. In Oklahoma, conservatives believe the rights of fetuses should commandeer valuable class-time and over-subscribed state dollars, regardless of the costs to actual children.

“Actual children.” As opposed to the children in the womb, who are apparently fake children despite really being there, really being alive, and really being human?

Thank you, Nora Caplan-Bricker, for closing your attack on Oklahoma’s new law with a display of ignorance that actually shows why every state needs educational reforms just like it.

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