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OKLAHOMA CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - The state of Oklahoma is voting on a law requiring that students be taught that life begins at conception.
In a decision Tuesday, the Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget committee voted 17–2 on legislation instructing all publicly funded programs to inform students that conception marks the beginning of life. The bill, titled HB 2797, would mandate that the state department of education "establish, operate and maintain a public information program to educate the public about the humanity of a child in utero." It would also effectively affirm "that it is the public policy of the State of Oklahoma to make a value judgment favoring childbirth over abortion."
Additional measures within the bill, which would create the Humanity of the Unborn Child Act, include requirements that the education department maintain a list of both private and public organizations that "assist women through pregnancy and childhood" and develop a "public information campaign utilizing PSAs and other media" to inform expectant mothers of said organizations.
An earlier provision requiring "licensed medical providers and hospitals to inform each pregnant patient within five days from the determination that the patient is pregnant" of the public and private assistance available was discarded at the recommendation of the subcommittee.
An added measure allows parents to opt out of the instruction on behalf of their children.
Republican representative Ann Coody of Lawton, Oklahoma, who authored the bill, states the purpose is "to show that he's a real human being. ... [T]hat child is still a person, and we're killing a person."
Coody, who has years of experience as a public school teacher, asserts that the funds allotted for the bill will not be used for sex education or abortion counseling. Sex education only works to condone sexual relations before marriage, she says, adding that the "only sure way to prevent pregnancy is not to have intercourse."
HB 2797 is not without its opponents, with even local media outlets referring to it negatively as an "anti-abortion bill." Others, including House Democratic Leader Scott Inman, claim the legislation is attacking abortion while ignoring the root causes of it, which they cite as poverty and insufficient healthcare coverage.
Following the approval of the House committee, the bill is scheduled to move to the full House, where it will undergo debate and a vote.
According to the National Right to Life Committee, Oklahoma is the first state in the union to propose such legislation.