Senator’s legislative kill not a fairly good move
Sunday, June 01, 2014 12:25 AM
There is perhaps a certain irony to a certain state senator’s name, considering what he single-handedly did to a piece of legislation last week.
Greenville Republican Sen. Mike Fair placed a procedural hold on a bill that would have improved and updated the state’s sex education curriculum. The move keeps the bill off the Senate floor, effectively killing it for this legislative year. The legislation had bipartisan support and had cleared the Senate Education Committee by a 9-2 vote, but Fair apparently does not think it is fair to our teenagers to teach medically accurate sex information while adhering to the emphasis of abstinence as a pregnancy prevention tool.
The senator has fairly well turned off his ability to comprehend the facts, face the reality and fathom the data before him. What a shame.
Here’s part of the problem that led to another Republican, state Rep. B.R. Skelton of Pickens, to sponsor the legislation. About 75 percent of our state public schools have not been in compliance with the 1988 law that requires teaching contraception with the emphasis placed on abstinence. And while teen pregnancy rates have, thankfully, dropped in South Carolina, imagine how low they might go if the law were followed in a state that has the 11th-highest teen birth rate in the nation.
OK, maybe it’s not fair of us to say Fair has ignored all the data. After all, he did point to the drop in teen pregnancies as proof the 1988 curriculum is working fine. Even if 75 percent of the schools are not in compliance. By golly, Sen. Fair, who can argue with that logic? The pregnancy rate among teens has dropped, but our state still clings to the No. 11 spot for highest teen birth rates nationwide, and why would lawmakers want to put some teeth into a law they established by instituting a penalty for noncompliance? Why would lawmakers want to do anything at all that most assuredly would result in a continued decline in teen birth rates among our public school children? Or reduce the spread of STDs? Or create less of a drain on the taxpayers? Or increase the chances our teenagers -- boys and girls -- will have in garnering better educations and leading more productive adult lives?
Why not, senator, ignore the 2012 survey of South Carolina voters that reflect 84 percent of them support a sex education curriculum that keeps abstinence in the mix while teaching contraception? And why not ignore something else Skelton’s bill would have provided? It would have ensured parents are actually told -- by law -- exactly what is being taught in the sex education curriculum?
Those are a lot of questions we are asking of Sen. Mike Fair. But you know, they’re fair questions to ask.