A proposal to emphasize abstinence as the primary focus of sex education classes in Missouri public schools has been attacked as an effort to ban discussions of contraception.

Joplin Senator Gary Nodler’s bill says sex education classes in Missouri schools should conform to a specific part of a federal budget law that emphasizes abstinence.  He denies his plan limits discussions of contraception but he is pressed by four fellow Senators who question his contention that his bill would ban discussions of contraception except in terms of its failures. 

When Nodler told Columbia Senator Chuck Graham his bill was intended to make Missouri eligible for federal sex education funding, Graham forced him to admit the state had been getting that funding for a decade.  And when Senator Chris Koster of Harrisonville asked him to name the forms of contraception that could be taught under his bill, Nodler refused to answer. 

Pro-life lobbyists say the bill does not limit discussions of contraception.  But the long-time principal of Kirkwood High School has told the Senate Judiciary Committee the bill is a smoke-screen for limits on local control and on giving students medically-factual information.

At least a dozen students have told the committee the bill is a bad idea.  The committee has taken the bill under advisement.

Download Bob Priddy’s story (:52 mp3)