Education, Government, Latest News

Senate passes bill requiring 8th graders to watch fetal development video, ‘Meet Baby Olivia’

West Virginia senators voted to require eighth grade viewings of a specific video showing insemination and fetal development by a particular national group involved in abortion politics.

Senate Bill 468 would require public school viewings of “Meet Baby Olivia,” by Live Action, a nonprofit organization that has been active in national anti-abortion campaigns.

The video begins with an image of a fetus called Olivia and then goes on to show sperm fertilizing an egg. “This is the moment that life begins.” After that, the video shows weeks of development.

The bill does not explicitly grant an opt-out for parents.

Senators voted 27-6 in favor of the bill, which now goes to the House of Delegates.

“As a classroom teacher, I know that all my students learn in different ways. Some students learn from reading things. Some students learn from writing things. Some students learn from touching and doing things. And some students learn from visual representation,” said Senate Education Chairwoman Amy Nichole Grady, R-Mason, a fourth-grade teacher.

“This computer-generated video and animated video puts it in terms that kids can understand and lets them see it, lets them see the growth happen. It’s really important that they do that because they’re visual learners.”

Some senators expressed concern about state law requiring a specific video by a specific company. They also pointed out factual inaccuracies and questioned whether the video’s statement about the moment life begins could be challenged legally on grounds of violating the Constitution’s prohibitions against the government making laws regarding the establishment of religion.

Voting against the bill were Republicans Tom Takubo, the majority leader; Charles Trump, the judiciary chairman; and Ryan Weld, the majority whip; along with all three Democrats — Mike Woelfel, Mike Caputo and Bob Plymale.

Takubo, a doctor, described “discrepancies in the video that are grossly inaccurate.” He noted an earlier effort to remove requirements for the specific video and specific provider. What would have remained was a more general requirement to teach students about human development.

“And if we’re going to codify something that we’re going to teach as fact, it needs to be fact,” Takubo said.

Woelfel said he believes life begins at conception, but “that’s a sincerely held religious belief. And other folks that have different faiths have their own sincerely held religious beliefs that are contrary to that.”

Others argued the bill would enlighten school children about human development.

“This video is not political, and it is not religious,” said Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson. “It goes through basic stages of human development in an approachable way that is easy for a child to understand and comprehend.”

Sen. Mike Azinger, R-Wood, cited religious grounds for believing that life begins at conception. “For one example: ‘Adam knew Eve, his wife, and she conceived.’ There, right there. ‘Adam knew his wife and she conceived.’ There it came.”

He said anyone with a religious background built on the Bible’s book of Genesis would be fine with the instruction.

Azinger continued by saying the theory of evolution has long been taught in science classes, “and that’s a quickly dying theory that many understand to be an absurdity.”

He said the video shows the miracle of the first instant of human life.

“Google it. At the very nanosecond of conception, there’s a flash of light. When conception occurs in human beings — I believe it’s across the whole animal kingdom — at the second of conception, there’s a flash of life. That’s God telling us, I believe, that life begins there.”