Editorial: Senate oversteps on abortion education

May. 13, 2013 @ 07:18 PM

We can’t deny that abortions – especially multiple procedures – may make later pregnancies riskier for young women.

But they’re far from the only risk factor that women should consider and it seems irresponsible to us that our state Senate, on a close voice vote, decided it should tell public schools to specify abortion as a premature birth cause in health class.

The job of curriculum building should fall to our educators and school administrators, not politicians who are trying to push an anti-choice political agenda.

In an Associated Press report last week, the bill’s lead sponsor, Warren Daniel, R-Burke, insisted that the legislation is about science, not politics.

“We educate our children on the risks of cigarette smoking. We educate our children based on the risks of drinking and other hazardous behaviors,” he said. “This is just a bill based on the scientific evidence that you will have a future risk of premature birth if you have an abortion.”

Curiously, two UNC experts find themselves at odds in the debate.

Martin McCaffrey, a professor of pediatrics at UNC’s Medical School and author of a 2012 study that blamed abortions for future preterm births, said the public remains unaware of the risk factor.

“Some of the mothers of preterm babies I care for, tortured at their bedside as they maintain vigils with their babies for months, ask why,” he told the AP.

David Grimes, a UNC gynecologist and former Centers for Disease Control official, cited the World Health Organization, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Public Health Association that don’t support the science behind the link.

But his chief concern isn’t the question about the veracity of the science. It’s about the method of curriculum delivery.

“Even if the statement were true, curriculum should be left to educators, not politicians unfamiliar with the literature,” Grimes said.

We agree with Grimes. Politicians aren’t teachers. They’re hawking a favorite ideology that can come directly from parents without using teachers as mouthpieces.

And even if they were putting their money where their mouth is and fully funding public education, rather than a dwindling percentage each year, we wouldn’t want them making curriculum calls like this.