OKLAHOMA CITY — A bill requiring public high schools to incorporate an anti-abortion message into their curricula passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives 64-12 on Tuesday, with one-fourth of the members skipping the vote.
House Bill 2797, by Rep. Ann Coody, creates a special revolving fund that can be used only to promote the “humanity of the unborn” and oppose abortion. The bill specifically requires those messages become part of high school instruction, and allows for production of promotional materials for general distribution.
The proposed law states as a matter of public policy that “abortion kills a living human being.”
Coody. R-Lawton, said the bill would have little immediate impact because no money would be allocated to the fund this year, or until the state digs out of its budget crisis.
However, Rep. Cannaday, D-Porum, said it is his understanding the curriculum part of the bill could be implemented at no cost.
This led to questions from Cannaday and Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, about why the bill creates a revolving fund at all. Their questions were not directly answered.
Proponents of the bill predicted it would reduce not only abortion but child abuse, and linked the introduction of legal abortion to what they said has been an increase in the mistreatment of children.
Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa, disputed that, saying child abuse is more thoroughly investigated and reported now than in the 1970s, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled abortion legal in most circumstances.
Virgin’s amendment to require sex education as part of the anti-abortion curriculum — something specifically excluded by the current language — was quickly tabled. The same happened with an amendment by Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City, to include contraception in the bill.
“I hear you say this has nothing to do with sex education,” Dunnington said. “But children who are in the womb are there because people have sex. It doesn’t make sense not to include that.”
In an apparent dig at education savings accounts — a proposal working its way through the Legislature that would allow the use of state education funds for private schools — Dunnington suggested the creation of “contraception savings accounts” for teens whose parents hold them out of the anti-abortion instruction.
Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Oklahoma City, said HB 2797 does not exclude sex education altogether, any more than teaching “agriculture or oil and gas.”
Also Tuesday, the House passed a measure targeting the Humane Society USA for what some say was deceptive fundraising following the Moore tornadoes of 2013.
HSUSA denies the allegations and has sued Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for harassment over the matter.
HB 2250, by Rep. Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, would ban any “animal rights charitable organization” from soliciting funds in the state for use outside the state, or for any “political purposes inside or outside the state.”
The bill is part of a larger dispute involving HSUSA, the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, Pruitt and former Attorney General Drew Edmondson, who is representing HSUSA.
The Farm Bureau is advocating a “right to farm” constitutional amendment that is in response to HSUSA and other animal rights groups opposed to some intensive feeding operations and other common agriculture practices.