Senate Committee Advances Bad Sex-Education Bill

This morning the Arkansas Senate Education Committee passed a bill that forces public schools to teach graphic sex-education material to junior high and high school students.

S.B. 304 by Sen. Will Bond (D – Little Rock) and Rep. LeAnne Burch (D – Monticello) requires every school district in Arkansas to offer “evidence based” health courses to 7th – 12th graders that include instruction on preventing pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases through abstinence and contraceptives.

We know from experience that the kind of curriculum S.B. 304 mandates won’t actually teach students to be abstinent. Instead it will encourage students to be sexually active.

In the 1990s Governor Bill Clinton and Dr. Joycelyn Elders promoted these same kinds of sex-education programs in Arkansas. Family Council strongly opposed their programs, because they treated every public school student as if he or she would be promiscuous, and they failed to have a meaningful impact on Arkansas’ teen birth rates and teen abortion rates.

A few years ago, the Obama Administration spent millions of taxpayer dollars on “evidence-based” teen pregnancy prevention efforts nationwide. By and large, the program was unsuccessful; in fact, in some cases, students who went through the pregnancy prevention course were more likely to become pregnant afterward — not less likely.

S.B. 304 is just a continuation of these same flawed programs.

House Passes Contraceptive Bill

This afternoon the Arkansas House of Representatives narrowly passed H.B. 1290 by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R – Clarksville) and Sen. Bart Hester (R – Cave Springs).

The bill lets pharmacists give oral contraceptives to women without a prescription from a doctor.

Family Council opposes the bill primarily for two reasons.

First, oral contraceptives carry a number of health risks — including heart attack, blood clots in the lungs, and bleeding in the brain. That’s why these pills currently require a prescription from a doctor. Letting pharmacists dispense them without the oversight of a physician jeopardizes women’s health.

Second, according to the federal Food and Drug Administration, oral contraceptives can cause the death of an unborn child. These drugs not only prevent the conception of unborn children, but they can also stop an unborn child from implanting inside the mother’s womb, causing the child to die and be miscarried. The fact that these drugs can cause the death of an unborn child makes this a human life issue.

The bill was amended last week before the House Public Health Committee passed it, and now there are concerns that some of the changes made to the bill may make it possible for pharmacists to refer women to abortion facilities like Planned Parenthood when they dispense birth control pills.

The bill now goes to the Arkansas Senate Public Health Committee. Below is a breakdown of how the Arkansas House voted today.

The Following Representatives Voted Against the Bill

Rep. Rick Beck
Rep. Stan Berry
Rep. Harlan Breaux
Rep. Joe Cloud
Rep. Cameron Cooper
Rep. Marsh Davis
Rep. Gary Deffenbaugh
Rep. Brian Evans
Rep. Lanny Fite
Rep. Jack Fortner
Rep. Mickey Gates
Rep. Lee Johnson
Rep. Jasen Kelly
Rep. Mark Lowery
Rep. Julie Mayberry
Rep. Gayla McKenzie
Rep. Ron McNair
Rep. Stephen Meeks
Rep. John Payton
Rep. Clint Penzo
Rep. Keith Slape
Rep. Brandt Smith
Rep. Nelda Speaks
Rep. Dan Sullivan
Rep. Les Warren
Rep. Danny Watson
Rep. Carlton Wing
Rep. Richard Womack
Rep. Jim Wooten

The Following Representatives Voted For the Bill

Rep. Fred Allen
Rep. Mary Bentley
Rep. Charles Blake
Rep. Justin Boyd
Rep. Karilyn Brown
Rep. LeAnne Burch
Rep. Sarah Capp
Rep. Frances Cavenaugh
Rep. Craig Christiansen
Rep. Nicole Clowney
Rep. Bruce Coleman
Rep. Andrew Collins
Rep. Andy Davis
Rep. Jana Della Rosa
Rep. Jim Dotson
Rep. Dan Douglas
Rep. Deborah Ferguson
Rep. Kenneth Ferguson
Rep. David Fielding
Rep. Vivian Flowers
Rep. Denise Garner
Rep. Jimmy Gazaway
Rep. Don Glover
Rep. Megan Godfrey
Rep. Justin Gonzales
Rep. Michelle Gray
Rep. Spencer Hawks
Rep. David Hillman
Rep. Grant Hodges
Rep. Monte Hodges
Rep. Steve Hollowell
Rep. Joe Jett
Rep. Jack Ladyman
Rep. Fred Love
Rep. Roger Lynch
Rep. Stephen Magie
Rep. Austin McCollum
Rep. Tippi McCullough
Rep. Josh Miller
Rep. Reginald Murdock
Rep. Milton Nicks
Rep. Mark Perry
Rep. Rebecca Petty
Rep. Aaron Pilkington
Rep. Jay Richardson
Rep. Chris Richey
Rep. Laurie Rushing
Rep. Johnny Rye
Rep. Jamie Scott
Rep. Stu Smith
Rep. DeAnn Vaught
Rep. John Walker
Rep. Jeff Wardlaw
Rep. David Whitaker

The Following Representatives Voted “Present” (Did Not Vote For the Bill or Against the Bill)

Rep. Sonia Barker
Rep. Ken Bragg
Rep. Cindy Crawford
Rep. Carol Dalby
Rep. Charlene Fite
Rep. Mike Holcomb
Rep. Robin Lundstrum
Rep. Jim Sorvillo
Rep. Dwight Tosh

The Following Representatives Were Absent or Did Not Vote

Rep. Bruce Cozart
Rep. Les Eaves
Rep. Jon Eubanks
Rep. Doug House
Rep. Lane Jean
Rep. John Maddox
Rep. Marcus Richmond
Rep. Matthew Shepherd

A Quick Look at the Arkansas Legislature

A lot is happening at the Arkansas Legislature. Here’s a quick look at some of the bills that have been filed so far — including good bills, bad bills, and a few bills that simply are worth knowing about.

Good Bills

H.B. 1289: This good bill by Rep. Brandt Smith (R – Jonesboro) protects the rights of conscience of all healthcare workers and companies. This will prevent people and organizations from being forced to promote, participate in, or pay for medical procedures that violate their conscience — like abortion. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 156: This good bill by Sen. Bob Ballinger (R – Berryville) and Rep. Dan Sullivan (R – Jonesboro) prevents public colleges and universities from infringing the free speech of students and faculty on campus. In other states, pro-life student groups have faced discrimination on college campuses, and universities have tried to squelch faith-based student groups. Arkansas State University in Jonesboro currently faces a lawsuit over a policy that relegates speech to certain “free speech zones” on campus; the policy has been heavily criticized, and many do not expect it to survive a legal challenge. S.B. 156 protects students and faculty from these types of restrictions. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 149: This good bill by Sen. Jason Rapert (R – Conway) prohibits abortion in Arkansas if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 2: This good bill by Sen. Trent Garner (R – El Dorado) prohibits abortions performed because the baby has Down Syndrome. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 3: This good bill by Sen. Trent Garner (R – El Dorado) requires abortionist to report complications arising from an abortion. Abortion carries a number of risks and consequences, and the reporting required by this bill will help Arkansas craft better pro-life laws in the future. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 168: This good bill updates Arkansas’ Safe Haven Act. It lets a woman surrender her newborn to law enforcement personnel, fire department personnel, or medical personnel. Arkansas’ Safe Haven Act protects children from being abandoned, and it provides women with options besides abortion. Read The Bill Here.

Bad Bills

H.B. 1164 and H.B. 1290: These two bills by Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R – Clarksville) let pharmacists dispense oral contraceptives to women without a prescription from a doctor. Oral contraceptives carry a number of health risks — which is why women currently need a prescription from a doctor — and they can cause the death of an unborn child by preventing the unborn child from implanting and growing inside the mother’s womb. That’s why Family Council opposes both of these bills.
Read H.B. 1164 Here.
Read H.B. 1290 Here.

H.B. 1150: This bill expands the list of “qualifying conditions” in Arkansas’ marijuana amendment, making it even easier for people to use so-called “medical” marijuana. Marijuana is a blight on our communities, and Arkansas’ marijuana amendment already is too vague and open-ended. Marijuana needs to be restricted — not expanded. Read The Bill Here.

Other Noteworthy Bills

H.B. 1294: This bill by Rep. Jana Della Rosa (R – Rogers) gives officials discretion when prosecuting DUI cases. Some are concerned the bill may make it less likely that drunk drivers will be prosecuted. Read The Bill Here.

S.B. 190: This bill by Sen. Greg Leding (D – Fayetteville) creates a state license for genetic counselors in Arkansas. Genetic counseling gives some pro-life advocates pause, because it can be used to promote abortion — particularly in cases when the unborn baby may have Down Syndrome. Read The Bill Here.

How to Contact Your Legislators

You can leave a message about legislation for your state senator by calling the Arkansas Senate during normal business hours at (501) 682-2902.

You can leave a message about legislation for your state representative by calling the Arkansas House during normal business hours at (501) 682-6211.