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Utah Legislature Votes To Prohibit Schools From Teaching About Contraception

A bill "that would let schools skip teaching sex education and prohibit instruction in the use of contraception" is headed to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's desk after the state Senate today approved it by a 19-10 vote, The Salt Lake Tribunewrites.

Schools would need to focus on "abstinence-only" instruction.

The legislation, already passed by the state House, drew its support mostly from Republicans. Herbert, also a Republican, hasn't yet said whether he will sign it into law. According to the Tribune, Herbert spokeswoman Ally Isom said "this bill had a few revisions during its legislative course. Our staff will review the final draft once we receive it."

The Deseret Newsreports that:

"Rep. Bill Wright, R-Holden, sponsored the bill in response to what he viewed as inappropriate material being presented in classrooms, specifically materials produced by Planned Parenthood. Throughout the course of the legislative session he said that sex education should take place in the home and was pleased to see the bill pass in the Senate. ...

"Opponents in both the House and Senate criticized the bill for being uncharacteristically 'big government.' They said the legislature was taking a one-size-fits-all approach to defining morality and doing a disservice to parents and children by eliminating the choice for a more comprehensive education."

According to the Guttmacher Institute, "21 states [including Utah] and the District of Columbia [currently] mandate sex education." Eighteen states and D.C. require that if sex education is taught, "information on contraception be provided."

Mississippi, which does not mandate sex education, permits teaching about contraception only "with prior approval from the Department of Education," according to the institute.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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