Raleigh, N.C. — A proposal to require health teachers in North Carolina public schools to inform students of risk factors related to premature births moved one step closer to law Tuesday.
The House Health and Human Services Committee voted 13-7 to approve Senate Bill 132, which says reproductive health classes should include information about the preventable causes of premature births. A vote on the House floor could come on Wednesday.
The bill initially listed previous abortions as the only cause of premature births, but it was amended before Senate passage to also include smoking, drinking, drug use and poor prenatal care as other causes.
Rep. Beverly Earle, D-Mecklenburg, tried to amend the bill to give teachers more flexibility about what they should teach, but bill backers defeated the effort, saying someone had to establish a list of risk factors to be covered in class.
"To not include these known facts is just not correct," said Rep. Jim Fulghum, R-Wake, a physician.
Some lawmakers said the language of the bill should be changed, arguing scientific studies haven't concluded that any of the activities directly caused premature deliveries.
"I would be a lot more comfortable with this bill if it said it teaches about potential risk factors," said Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange. "I can't vote for this bill because I think it is incorrect to say you can teach about preventable causes. You can teach about preventable risk factors."
An effort to switch "causes" to "risk factors" in the bill failed.
Bill sponsor Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Burke, said teachers might wind up using the word "risk" in class, but he saw no reason to change the bill's language.