A bill on Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt’s desk would prohibit public school districts from working with groups that provide abortion services or referrals.
Part of House Bill 1055, sponsored by Rep. Therese Sander, R-Moberly, allows school districts to continue to teach abstinence-based sex education but effectively kicks out Planned Parenthood, said Kellie Rohrbaugh, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Southwest Missouri. “If we were in area public schools, we would be asked to leave,” she said.
The legislation also would keep community action groups and local health departments out of schools if they make abortion referrals, she said...
...The Joplin, Carl Junction, Carthage and Neosho districts contract with LifeChoices Medical Clinic and Resource Center in Joplin to offer Virtuous Reality, an abstinence-based program, to middle-school and high-school students.
“This is not just a ‘just say no’ program,” said Shannon Wendt, a program director at LifeChoices. “It teaches assertiveness skills, risk avoidance and relationship skills.”
Area youth ministers are hired as instructors to teach the LifeChoices curriculum in some schools, but Webb City Superintendent Ron Lankford said the instructors stay on topic and don’t bring religious teaching into the classroom.
“For many parents, it’s a comforting characteristic that they frequently hire youth ministers,” he said. “But they don’t proselytize. The people who come in do a great job and stick with the curriculum.”